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Tecumseh, Ont. wrestler punches ticket to Olympics

Linda Morais of Tecumseh, Ont. is pictured after winning bronze at the World Olympic Qualifier in Istanbul, Turkiye on May 11, 2024. (Source: Wrestling Canada/X) Linda Morais of Tecumseh, Ont. is pictured after winning bronze at the World Olympic Qualifier in Istanbul, Turkiye on May 11, 2024. (Source: Wrestling Canada/X)
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Linda Morais made the most of her last chance at realizing her Olympic dream.

The Tecumseh native beat Alexandra Anghel of Romania 4-3 to win a bronze medal in the 68kg weight class at the final World Olympic Qualifier in Istanbul, Turkiye to secure her spot.

“It’s unbelievable,” Morais said during an interview while travelling on an athlete’s bus in Istanbul. “I’ve dreamed about becoming an Olympian one day but when I failed in 2020 and then at these past qualifiers in Mexico I also underperformed, so man, I’ve ran a lot of defeats over the years so finally getting that win is just a feeling I can’t even describe. It’s incredible.”

Morais had to grind through a tough tournament that saw her hit the mat for six matches in two days.

She was rolling until the quarterfinals when she was stopped by Feng Zhou of China 12-0. The loss didn’t knock Morais out of contention however, as she beat Mimi Hristova of Bulgaria 14-4 to set herself up with a chance to grab the last spot.

A graduate of L’Essor in 2011, Morais had a different mindset heading into the tournament which eventually helped her.

“Having Dave [Zilberman] in my corner reminding me just to have fun and enjoy it and it might be your last one. So yeah, take it all in and that’s exactly what I did and it really paid off,” she said.

“Super proud, super excited for her," said David Tremblay who is also a L’Essor grad.

He participated in the 2012 Olympic Games and recently shared some words of wisdom with Morais after failing to qualify earlier.

“In my mind, the best part of the Olympics is the qualifying process,” Tremblay said. “I think, honestly, the way she just qualified is actually gonna help her in preparation for the Olympics.”

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