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Reaching for the gold

Considered a geek in Grade 9, Graeme Gordon has morphed from a tall, skinny kid to a confident young man who commands respect around Victoria High school.

The 17-year-old Grade 12 student affectionately known as “Flash” to his classmates and others at Vic High is the first to admit his exploits on a wrestling mat have been a lightning rod for that transformation.

Gordon is ramping up his game in an effort to win a medal at the upcoming provincial high school wrestling championships, set for Feb. 23-24 at Gilford Park secondary in Surrey.

Having won a silver medal in the 66-kilogram division at the Vancouver Island zone meet last weekend in Campbell River, Flash is anxious to prove he has learned a lot in his four years in the sport.

“To win and have your arm raised and know you’ve definitively beat someone… when you get results it’s very satisfying,” he said.

He may not wrestle for his school – Vic High hasn’t had it’s own program in years, so he competes for the Victoria Commonwealth Club Bulldogs – but he is no less devoted to the black and gold. Not only is he recognized these days for his work on the mats, he’s perhaps better known as Prime Minister Flash, head of the school’s student council.

After enduring a learning curve when he graduated up to the juvenile division (Grade 11-12) from cadet (Grade 9-10) – not as steep as his first year when he won just one match – he has this year defeated several opponents who beat him last season. With that in mind, he believes it’s his turn to win a provincial crown.

“It’s almost like I feel entitled to win because I feel like I’ve put my time in at practice (and won some key matches),” Gordon said.

His work ethic is nothing short of breathtaking. Since the Bulldogs can only practice certain days of the week at Cedar Hill middle school, he practices virtually every day with the Reynolds team and training partner Josh Brakefield, a Grade 11 athlete who is expected to challenge for a medal at the provincials at 57 kg.

After the zones, Bulldogs coach Ed Ashmore told Gordon to take a couple of days off to rest up. Flash was back on the mats the next day.

“I haven’t had a guy like that since Taras Hryb,” Ashmore said, referring to the former Olympian he coached in the late 1960s. “He has a tremendous heart and a super personality.”

With his steady ascent in wrestling and the fact he’s less than five months away from graduation, Gordon has begun to look at post-secondary options.

A straight ‘A’ student throughout high school who could likely land a scholarship to a U.S. college if he went looking, Gordon already knows his long-term future isn’t in wrestling.

His inclination is to attend the University of Victoria, so he can stay close to home and get more involved in coaching. He has yet to pick an area of study to specialize in, but he’s looking closely at either mechanical engineering or teaching physical education.

Even if he doesn’t continue wrestling, he plans to be close to the sport.

“It’ll be something to look back on it and say I was a wrestler,” he said. “It has been my high school experience, it’s what my life has revolved around.”

ddescoteau@vicnews.com

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