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North Winsloe’s Veronica Keefe continues to excel on national and international wrestling scene

North Winsloe native Veronica Keefe, centre, stands on the podium after winning Canada’s lone gold at the recent senior Pan American wrestling championships in Lima, Peru. Keefe defeated Diana Cruz Arroyo, far right, of Peru to win the title. Silver went to American Hannah Gladden, left.
North Winsloe native Veronica Keefe, centre, stands on the podium after winning Canada’s lone gold at the recent senior Pan American wrestling championships in Lima, Peru. Keefe defeated Diana Cruz Arroyo, far right, of Peru to win the title. Silver went to American Hannah Gladden, left. - Submitted

So, Veronica Keefe just keeps on winning.

The North Winsloe wrestler pinned Diana Cruz Arroyo of Peru and won Canada's lone gold at the recent senior Pan American wrestling championships in Lima, Peru.

Not bad for a first-timer.

“It feels pretty good. I’m glad I got the result I did at the Pan Ams. I haven’t been to the Pan Ams before,” said Keefe.

Competing in the 72 kg weight class, the 26-year-old Keefe went 3-0 in the women’s tournament and continued her rise in the wrestling world. In just over a year, she’s won three golds, a silver and was named as an alternate for Canada at the Commonwealth Games.

She said there isn’t a secret to it, just work and the right mindset.

“The training leading up to the Pan Ams was great at establishing routines. You’ve got to execute the things you’ve worked on. (Before a match) I have to go over in my mind the same things. But on the mat it’s automatic, very natural.”

That work also earned her an upward bump of her international ranking via United World Wrestling. She’s fifth in the world in her weight class behind Jenny Fransson of Sweden, Alexandra Anghel of Romania, Yue Han of China and Anastasiya Zimiankova of Belarus in first to fourth, respectively.

It’s a good thing although it doesn’t change her standing in Canada. She must fight it out in tournaments to reach any Canuck squad attending international events. There’s no free pass.

“I was really surprised. I didn’t think I would be near their radar. (I saw the post on Twitter) and thought ‘what is this guy talking about?'” she said. “It’s nice to have, but it doesn’t affect anything in Canada. You still have to win those to be tops in Canada.”

So to that end, Keefe plans next to head to world team trials the first week of June or the first week of July, depending on what weight class she’ll fight in this year. One class goes in June, the other in July.

The Concordia biology grad now attends McGill University (working on an education degree) in Montreal where she lives and trains with Victor and David Zilberman at the Montreal Wrestling Club.

Keefe has been on the mat since she’s been 15, owns more medals than most people have fingers and toes and might now just be coming into her prime proving experience matters as much as talent.

“It’s starting to pay off, all those years being around.”

Keefe plans to return to the Island after the trials in July.

The worlds go in Hungary in October.

*****

A few of Veronica Keefe’s wrestling awards.

2018 - Gold, senior Pan Am championships.

2017 - Sport P.E.I.’s senior female athlete of the year; gold, Guelph Open; silver, national senior championships; gold, Francophone Games.

2013 - Gold medal, Francophone Games, Quebec flag-bearer at closing ceremonies; silver, Commonwealth wrestling championships.

2011 - Sport P.E.I. female athlete of the year.

2010 - Bronze, international tournament of champions; silver, U Sports tournament at Concordia. 2009 - Gold, Canada Summer Games; Sport P.E.I. junior female athlete of the year; gold, U Sports tournament at Concordia.

2008 - Silver, national junior championships

charles.reid@theguardian.pe.ca

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