August 1, 1996
By TERRY JONES -- Team Sun
ATLANTA - Damn. Another silver medal.
Gia Sissaouri could hear those words, kind of long- distance telepathy, in his head here yesterday.
All of Canada disappointed in another silver medal.
Oh, no. Not Canada.
"My mom!'' he said.
"My mom doesn't want to hear me phone about silver again.
"She says, `You lose like the last time, I don't want to hear.' ''
Ah, yes, the voice of Chicho Sissaouri was there before he even had the medal around his neck.
ALL THE TIME SILVER
" `Last year silver. All the time silver,' he could hear her from Tbilisi, Georgia. " `I just want to hear when you get the gold medal.' ''
Sissaouri, who won his Canadian citizenship last year but lost the gold in the Worlds here last year, says facing mom is going to be tougher than it was facing American Kendall Cross in the gold medal bout.
"I don't know what to do now. She said, `You don't lose again. I want gold medal. When are you going to get a gold?'
"Maybe she'll be happy.''
Canada, he's sure, will be happy with the medal in the 57-kg competition in freestyle wrestling.
He's only been a Canadian citizen for a little over a year but Gia Sissaouri wears his love for Canada on his sleeve.
Five years ago, he left the war-torn Soviet Republic of Georgia to come to Canada, leaving behind his mom and sister Natiaya.
Actually, that's not quite how it worked. It wasn't quite war-torn when he left.
"First I come to Canada for training. Six months after I come over, they started the big war in Russia.''
They wanted him to come back and join the army. He declined. That probably made him a Georgian draft dodger. But it also made him a Canadian last year. And it made him a very proud Canadian.
GOOD FOR CANADA
"I feel more good for Canada because Canada gave me a new country, new friends, new home. It has been so good for me and I'd like to do something for Canada, too,'' he said before they hung the medal around his neck.
For himself, not so good.
"I'm a little bit disappointed,'' he said of winning Canada's eighth silver medal of these Olympics against only two golds so far.
"I always get the silver,'' he explained.
"In most international competitions, I get the silver.
Last year it was the same thing,'' he said of his Worlds silver, a loss to American Terry Brands.
"I'm happy. But I'm not real happy,'' added the Montreal grappler who is about the same size as a boxing featherweight.
He lost the match 5-3 and lost it on one move, real early. And he lost it on his own move. Cross saw it coming. You could call it the good old double-Cross.
"He just threw me,'' said Sissaouri to the uneducated media mob on the subject who were, somehow, expecting a more complicated answer.
The throw was worth three points. The hold which followed was worth two more.
Five-zip a minute into the five-minute final. Toast.
"I feel good. I feel bad. So-so. I can do it better.
"But I am glad for Canada - to make Canada happy.''
It didn't help that both the world championship and Olympic matches were in the same venue and both were full of Americans screaming their lungs out for the other guy.
He admitted it bothered him a bit.
"A little bit, it did.''
For what it was worth, Cross said it would have bothered him if it was the other way around.
"The crowd was wild. I'd hate to be in the other situation with him and his crowd in Canada,'' said the gold medallist.
"The margin was so close. It could have been me,'' he said of the silver.
Sissaouri had fought Cross three times before and beat him two out of the three.
`BEAT ME GOOD'
"He beat me the good time,'' he said.
If Sissaouri lost the gold in his afternoon match against Cross, then he won silver in the morning match against the Macedonian Saban Trstena.
The 25-year-old went through four matches undefeated to get to the gold medal final. And his semifinal match in the morning required overtime and involved a protest. From a political point of view, it was a bit dicey because the president of FILA happens to be a Macedonian.
When it was over, he was going for gold. The wrestler who had not that many years ago competed for the Soviet Union desperately wanted to give Canada that great gift.
Canada has yet to win a gold medal in wrestling. With a Barcelona silver from Jeff Thue and a Los Angeles silver from Bob Molle, Canada has made it to a gold medal mat three of the last four Olympics.
"I will try again.
``You haven't heard the last of Gia Sissaouri. It is my goal.''
For Canada. For himself. And especially for mom.