|Canadian wrestling team coach Marty Calder would like to see Georges St-Pierre in the Olympics. (Getty Images/Frazer Harrison)
Canadian wrestling team coach Marty Calder was not sending any mixed messages to mixed martial arts superstar Georges St. Pierre on Thursday.
Calder, also the head wrestling coach at Brock University in St. Catharines, would absolutely love it if St. Pierre, the current UFC welterweight champ, attempted to qualify for the Canadian Olympic team — because it would raise the profile of amateur wrestling, a sport that receives very little recognition in Canada. In fact, Calder is encouraging St. Pierre to take the plunge.
“Could you imagine what our Olympic wrestling trials would be like if Georges St. Pierre was there?” said Calder, from his office at Brock. “Can you imagine how many cameras would be on him? Can you imagine the friggin’ excitement that would create?”
Calder believes that most amateur wrestling types in Canada, including most of the athletes, would support St. Pierre’s attempts to make the Olympic team. St. Pierre, a Saint-Isidore, Que. native, has expressed interest in trying out for the team for the 2012 London Olympics and UFC chief Dana White has indicated that he wouldn’t hold the fighter back.
Though some have scoffed at the suggestion, the idea of St. Pierre making the Olympic team in wrestling may not be that far-fetched.
St. Pierre has trained extensively in wrestling and is considered one of the better MMA fighters in terms of his wrestling skills. He has often trained with another national team coach, Victor Zilberman, in Montreal.
“In terms of his (MMA) skills, I think he’s identified himself as more of a wrestler than anything else,” said Calder.
St-Pierre, 29, claimed that he was actually training to make the 2008 Olympic team for the Beijing Games when he was interrupted by a call to fight Matt Hughes at UFC 92 when Matt Serra withdrew due to injury.
Calder, a former Olympic team wrestler, believes St. Pierre would have to start competing seriously by next year. St. Pierre has said that he will decide on whether he wants to try for the Canadian Olympic team some time this year. He’s currently scheduled to defend his UFC welterweight title in a rematch against American Josh Koscheck at UFC 124 on Dec. 11.
“I think if he put some time in it and concentrated 100% on the sport, he could do it,” said Calder, the personal coach of two-time Olympic medallist Tonya Verbeek and national 74 kg champion Evan MacDonald.
“I just think it would be great for our sport,” added Calder, who was named a coach for the Canadian team for the 2010 Commonwealth Games, which will be held Oct. 3-14 in Delhi, India.
St. Pierre is the UFC welterweight champion and is listed at 170 pounds, (77 kg). The Olympic freestyle wrestling weight classes are 74 kg (163 pounds) and 84 kg (185 pounds). It would probably be better for St. Pierre to move up to the 84 kg if he tried out for the Canadian Olympic team, for two reasons. One, it would be extremely difficult for an athlete of St. Pierre’s fitness level to drop seven or eight pounds and maintain his strength. Two, the current Canadian champion at 74 kg, Evan MacDonald, Calder’s wrestler, is a very accomplished international competitor, meaning that St. Pierre would have a very difficult time qualifying for the Canadian team in that division.
But the 84 kg division is much more wide open and the current Canadian champion, Danny Brown, with all due respect, is not considered a top-calibre international wrestler.
In fact, Brown’s profile on the Canadian Amateur Wrestling Association website has no international results listed for the Guelph wrestler. The CAWA site also lists Brown’s birthdate as Jan.1, 2010, meaning that he is still an infant. Undoubtedly, St. Pierre wouldn’t have any problem beating an infant, though the birthdate is likely a typo. At least we would hope so. If not, Brown winning the Canadian championship is even bigger story than St. Pierre.
“That weight class (84kg) doesn’t have a substantiated champion,” said Calder. “It’s definitely a weight class up for grabs.”
St. Pierre fans certainly would be interested if their man were to attempt to qualify at 84 kg because that would put him at 185 pounds — the same weight as UFC middleweight champ Anderson Silva.
Silva recently said that the only way there will be a superfight between him and St. Pierre is if GSP goes up to 185 pounds.
Interesting stuff. As for the Olympics, St. Pierre would probably have to focus on wrestling after his fight against Koscheck in December if he wanted to make the team. That would give him three months to prepare for the 2011 Canadian championships, which will be held in March, in Edmonton. The Olympic trials will be held in December, 2011 in Winnipeg.
The Canadian team also has to qualify each weight class for the Olympics, but can do so over a series of four events, including the world championships.
Calder, for one, would not write off St. Pierre from making the Canadian team, though many others do.
“I really respect him as an athlete,” said Calder. “And I think the wrestlers would love it if he gave it a try.”