In early and mid-March, Shaw Centre was honoured and excited to welcome Wrestling Canada Lutte (WCL) for the Senior Pan-Am Championships and the Olympic Games Qualification Tournament.
Given that this was the first time hosting an event such as this, Shaw Centre was more than happy to cooperate with WCL, the national governing body for wrestling in Canada, to establish and comply with all the necessary protocols to ensure the health and safety of competitors and their coaches.
It may seem odd to hold athletic competitions in a facility such as ours, but, in fact, Shaw Centre was the ideal venue, thanks in part to our central location and the flexibility of our space. Bleachers and wrestling rings are not part of normal operations here at the Centre, so it was fun for our team to see the venue being used in a very unique way. When the competitors were not in the ring, many were seen stretching, warming up and practicing on the mats installed outside of Canada Hall prior to their event. The atmosphere in the Centre was buzzing with excitement throughout each day of competition, with many languages being spoken. The sporting arena vibe was reinforced by the sight of so many people strolling around in athleisure wear – a marked contrast to the business suits that are more common attire inside Shaw Centre.
Various events including women’s, men’s Freestyle and men’s Greco-Roman wrestling were held as part of the tournaments. The Pan-Am championships hosted all ten United World Wrestling weight-classes in each style, while the Olympic Qualifier included competition in each of the six Olympic weight-classes. One of the marquee competitors at Shaw Centre was Ottawa’s own Erica Wiebe, the reigning Olympic champion in women’s 75 kg freestyle (having won gold at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janiero). She is also the current Commonwealth Games champion in the same weight class, having won the gold medal at the 2014 and 2018 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and the Gold Coast, respectively. Wiebe was successful in punching her ticket to the scheduled Tokyo Olympiad at the continental qualification tournament. The Pan-Am Olympic qualifiers were an important stop on the road to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games with the top two finishers in each weight class securing a quota spot for their country at the Olympics. Event organizers were very pleased with the tournaments and the support received from the whole Shaw Centre team.
“What a change of pace to have the opportunity of planning a sporting event at the Centre! To transform part of our Canada Hall into a large wrestling arena for the Olympic qualifiers was truly memorable. Not only was I challenged with the transformation of a space typically used for large conventions and trade shows, I had the pleasure of working alongside professionals from the sports industry, learning from them and the chance to witness these athletes compete for their lifelong dream! No doubt a fulfilling experience as a planner.” – Vanessa Plante, Event Services Manager
Elite athletes from across North, Central and South America were effusive in their praise for the great venue and setup which they got to enjoy as competitors.