Gerhart golden at Pan-Am Games
By the sault star
Mike Verdone, The Sault Star
Sault native Amanda Gerhart continues to climb the ladder as an elite athlete while she strives to qualify for the
Olympics, and wrestle for Canada next year at the 2012 Summer Games in England.
The 26-year-old did well at the Pan American Wrestling Championships the last few years, finishing third both
But last weekend she was perched on top of the podium after winning a gold medal in the 59-kilogram division
at the Pan Am championships in Columbia.
Gerhart defeated opponents from Ecuador and Brazil to advance to finals, where she faced an American in the
gold medal match.
She said it's always sweet to defeat a member of the U.S. team because they are her chief rivals.
"I had U.S.A. in the finals. It's good to beat them," Gerhart said Wednesday from Miami, Fla., as she boarded a
plane for her home in Vancouver, B.C.
"Americans are good at wrestling. We go to the States a lot to compete. At the Pan Am championships, they're
the top team to beat."
Gerhart was one of 14 members of the Canadian National Wrestling Team that competed at the
championships in Rionegro, Colombia. The gold medal qualifies her to compete in the Pan Am Games that will
take place in Guadalajara, Mexico, in October.
Gerhart, 26, has been busy —and successfully in recent years — winning four national titles and a number of
honours at international meets.
Besides training six days a week with the Canadian wrestling team at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver,
she has been to a number of events.
In the run-up to last week's championships in Columbia, Gerhart won a gold medal at an international
tournament in Cuba.
And things aren't about to slow down for the five-foot-six, 127-pound wrestler because there are some major
events just around the corner, and she knows what it takes to make it to the top.
In July Gerhart will be back in Ontario to compete at the Canada Cup, an international tournament being held
A few months later she heads across the Atlantic with the national team.
"I'm going to Worlds in Turkey in September, so that will be a big competition," she said. "I've won nationals a
number of times, but had challenge matches, which I ended up losing, so I never got to go (before)."
One month later she will head south again to the Pan Am Games in Mexico.
Gerhart began wrestling about 11 years ago at Sir James Dunn under head coach Ted Fryia. Six years ago
she began attending Douglas College on a wrestling scholarship, one of British Columbia's largest colleges.
She started training with the Canadian national team at Simon Fraser University while studying criminology at
Gerhart wanted to be a police officer, but it didn't take long before her interests changed and she gravitated
toward becoming a firefighter.
"It's kind of like a men's club. Wrestling is kind of like a men's club too, and that's who I get along with,"?she
Gerhart knows firefighting is physically demanding. That's one of the reasons she looks forward to the
"It's like an adrenalin rush."
She recently completed a firefighting course in Texas and is close to becoming certified. Once she is a
qualified firefighter and her wrestling routine slows down, Gerhart may move back to her home province.
"I've got to write a couple exams," she said. "I think I'll apply everywhere, like in Ontario and in Vancouver."
But she may have to put her firefighting career on the back burner for a while because another major wrestling
event is on the agenda this winter.
"Olympic trials are in December, so I'd like to try to qualify for the Olympic Games."
As she works toward earning a spot at next year's Summer Games, Gerhart is clear about her priorities and
"Place in the top three at worlds, make the Olympic team, and after the Olympics become a firefighter."
Once she's back in Vancouver Gerhart will continue her rigorous, twice daily, six-days-a-week training routine
with the national team.
In between workouts she'll also continue to work as a server and bartender in Vancouver.
What does she do to unwind?
"Just go to the movies or relax at home."
Like most wrestlers, Gerhart has battled through injuries. She had a bad neck injury - a bulging disc – which
has been nagging at here for about four years.
She considered surgery to fix the problem, but things have improved in the last year thanks to regular
physiotherapy sessions, she said.
As she heads into more world-class competition later this year, she does so with a little bounce in her step
after winning gold in Columbia.
"My injuries are getting better and I'm getting stronger, I'm getting wiser and more confident."