Surrey-raised wrestler Amarveer Dhesi is one step closer to competing at the Olympics.
“I’d love to get there, and I feel like I have a good chance,” Dhesi said about his road to the 2020 Games, in Tokyo this summer.
In December, Dhesi won the top heavyweight spot at the Canadian Wrestling Trials in Niagara Falls, Ont. The result advanced him to the 2020 Pan-American Olympic Qualification Tournament, to be held in Ottawa in March. If he earns a top-two finish there, he’ll secure a spot on Canada’s 2020 Olympic Games team.
Dhesi now lives in Columbus, Ohio and trains with other world-class wrestlers at Ohio Regional Training Centre, which is affiliated with Ohio State University. He moved there in September to prepare for last month’s trials.
“It went well, so I’m going to stick around here,” explained Dhesi, who returned to the Surrey area over the holidays to visit family and friends.
(In video below from Niagara Falls, Dhesi is introduced at the 1:38:24 mark)
• RELATED STORY, from March 2018: Decorated Surrey wrestler Dhesi makes history again at NCAA level.
In recent years Dhesi was a standout at Oregon State, where he was a three-time All-American (2016, 2018, 2019), a two-time Pac-12 Most Outstanding Wrestler (2016, 2018) and 2018 Oregon State Male Athlete of the Year. He made history by being the first-ever Canadian wrestler to earn a full-ride scholarship to Oregon State, an NCAA Division 1 school.
Now graduated, he’s looking to book a trip to Japan this summer.
“With wrestling, it’s not a pro sport, even though right now I’m getting paid for what I do here in Ohio, so I think of myself as a professional at the Games, but the Olympics is really the pinnacle of our sport along with the world championships, so just competing for an Olympic medal and just being part of the event would be amazing. I’m looking for more.”
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Amar Dhesi unseats Korey Jarvis as the top heavyweight Canadian wrestler!— Wrestling Canada Lutte (@WrestlingCanada) December 8, 2019
Dhesi defeated the 2016 Olympian 10-0 and 11-0 in the best-of-three finals! pic.twitter.com/sLPrpEKt5Q
In Niagara Falls last month, in something of a revenge match, Dhesi defeated 2016 Rio Olympian Korey Jarvis for the top place in the 125KG class. The result marked Jarvis’ first loss to a Canadian in six years. Dhesi was dominant in the final bouts, winning his matches 11-0 and 10-0 by technical fall.
“It was a good feeling to get that win,” Dhesi recalled. “It’s big for me, because in the 2016 Olympic trials I was an alternate after taking second to him, and it was the same situation in the final this year, with (Jarvis) there in front of me. I wrestled a lot better this year, more to my capabilities, and I teched him both matches – that was fun. I don’t think I wrestled a total of six minutes in the whole tournament. I fared well, both mentally and physically, so it was exciting.”
(story continues below video from 2013)
”I have a huge support back in Surrey and at the club there, which has been around since the 1970s, and we have 50 or 60 kids with us now, I think – one of the top clubs in Canada,” Dhesi said. “I came out of there. You know, I went to school in Burnaby but lived my whole life in Whalley, so yeah, I have a huge support system in Surrey. They know it was the right move for me to get out of the country to train somewhere where there’s been Olympic champs and world champs who know what it takes and how to get there.”
Every so often, Dhesi returns to the Khalsa club to teach and inspire younger wrestlers.
“When I’m back home I go there and help, roll around with the kids and get them going,” he said. “It was the same thing for me growing up, having role models. Back then, winning a national championship was huge or even coming top-10, and then having me and some of my peers come along and win something like a junior world title, it was amazing. And now the next group behind will be even better than me, right, which I’m hoping. It’s a progression.”