Wrestler Joy pins his hopes on Tokyo in 2020

Robin
Robin Short
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Wrestling has rightfully been reinstated for the 2020 Olympic Summer Games, and noone is more delighted than 18-year-old Erik Joy of Paradise. That’s because young Joy believes he is destined to wrestle for Canada seven years time in Tokyo.
Not that Joy is cocky or conceited. It’s just that he really, truly believes it.

Paradise native Erik Joy is attending the University of New Brunswick where he will wrestle with the school’s Varsity Reds this fall. The 18-year-old hopes to represent Canada at the 2020 Olympic Summer Games in Tokyo, Japan.

Wrestling has rightfully been reinstated for the 2020 Olympic Summer Games, and noone is more delighted than 18-year-old Erik Joy of Paradise. That’s because young Joy believes he is destined to wrestle for Canada seven years time in Tokyo.

Not that Joy is cocky or conceited. It’s just that he really, truly believes it.

And there’s nothing wrong with that. Frankly, more Newfoundland athletes should be of the same vein.

This is only Joy’s fourth year wrestling, but already he’s raised more than a few eyebrows in a sport that, around these parts at least, is but a minor blip on the radar, grabbing headlines at the Olympics and, from a domestic standpoint, Canada Games every few years.

On the big stage, however, wrestling’s a big deal, a sport dating back to the ancient Olympic Games.

And it’s the Olympics to where Joy hopes his road, barely yet travelled, will lead.

“The top guy in Canada in my weight class (Haislan Garcia) has been to two Olympics already, and probably won’t go to 2020.

“With him out of the way, all I have to worry about are the guys my age and in a few years I will be able to beat most of them. I’ve wrestled seniors at camps and stuff and they haven’t beaten me by that much.”

Joy is settling in at the University of New Brunswick after graduating from Bishops College in St. John’s last spring. He’s intent on becoming an engineer, and will take seven courses in his first semester. But Joy also plans on getting in plenty of wrestling training, as much as two to three hours a day on the weekends.

Memorial University has a wrestling team, but it will never be mistaken for an NCAA program, or even an Atlantic universities outfit. The Sea-Hawks’ budget might allow the athletes a team jacket.

“I’ve been training with and competing against guys up here (in Fredericton, N.B.) for a year now, and the more I wrestled these guys, the more I wanted to get here.

“The training at MUN is not enough for what I want to accomplish. The MUN wrestling program is good, but if you want to get to the Olympics, you have to get off the island.

“I’m not knocking MUN. I trained with those guys, too. I just want to take myself further.”

While he’s still very much a newcomer to the sport, Joy has a 2012 Eastern Canadian and a 2011 Atlantic title, and a third-place finish at the UNB Open to his credit. He is a 2011 and 2013 provincial champ in his weight class.

He caught the eye of the UNB coaching staff when he attended Eastern Canadians, and beat a wrestler who was headed to UNB the following year.

“They were impressed with that,” he said. “I was actually going to attend a camp at UNB, but it was cancelled. They still asked me to come train and I was there four or five days and it was the toughest four or five days I had ever had in wrestling up to that point. I was only in Grade 11, wrestling guys much older than me. It was tough, but also challenging.”

See KICKBOXING, page B2

Last October, he wrestled with UNB’s club team, the Black Bears Wrestling Club. Later, he competed at a university tournament, beating three university wrestlers from Brock before losing his bronze-medal match to a UNB wrestler.

“That was a good confidence booster,” he said.

At one meet last year, Joy wrestled David Tremblay, a 2012 Canadian Olympian.

“I didn’t get destroyed,” he said. “It was a good match.”

At the recent Canada Summer Games in Sherbrooke, Que., Joy beat a New Brunswick wrestler who placed second at nationals this year in his first match, lost to Ontario, beat P.E.I. and then faced a Saskatchewan wrestler who competes for the University of Regina.

“He pinned me back in March at junior nationals,” Joy said. “I won the first round (in Sherbrooke), and in the next two rounds, he scored last point with 15 seconds left each time. It was back and forth, like last goal wins.

“He was the better man that day, but I’ll get him eventually.”

In the tournament, Joy suffered an elbow injury and wound up forfeiting his final match, finishing sixth overall.

“I feel like I was definitely in top-three contention,” he said.

One-on-one combat sports is nothing new to Joy, who was kickboxing before hitting the wrestling mat.

He was good enough to make Canada’s junior team, which ironically enough spelled the end of that particular career. At the world junior kickboxing championship in Serbia in 2010, he suffered a concussion.

“I was sidelined for a while, so I started started wrestling for fun in high school,” he recalls. “I didn’t get medical clearance for the kickboxing nationals, so I decided to enter the wrestling provincials and won that. Then I decided to stick with wrestling.”

And there have been no regrets.

“I enjoy the tough physical and mental practices, the one-on-one aspect of it,” he said. “It’s very mentally tough in that it plays with your mind sometimes when you’re training that hard. You ask yourself, ‘What am I working that hard for?’ And then you have to keep reminding yourself it all pays off in the end.

“The way I look at it is, if you fail and fail, and you succeed, and then you fail a few more times, each success will be bigger than the last one. And that’s what keeps me going.”

Robin Short is The Telegram’s Sports Editor. He can be reached by email rshort@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Bishops College, University of New Brunswick, NCAA Black Bears Wrestling Club University of Regina

Geographic location: Canada, Tokyo, Tokyo.Not Newfoundland Fredericton Sherbrooke New Brunswick Ontario Saskatchewan Serbia

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