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Local Olympic wrestler remains proud in wake of loss

Former Olds resident overcame major injuries to compete but says that day just wasn't her day to win
MVT Danielle Lappage headshot
Former Olds resident Danielle Lappage gave it all she had, but was beaten in her first wrestling match at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. Photo courtesy of Team Canada

OLDS — It didn’t go quite as planned for local Olympic wrestler Danielle Lappage.

The 31-year-old former Olds resident lost 7-0 in her initial match in the 68-kilogram (kg) class with Khanum Velieva of the Russian Olympic Committee on Aug. 2 during the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

Lappage had a slight chance to continue in competition if Velieva kept going. But she lost in the quarter-final, thereby ending Lappage’s opportunity to compete further as well.

Afterward, Lappage gave a shout-out to her hometown as she reflected on the match via Twitter. 

Lappage noted she’s had a lot to overcome during the past five years. 

Less than a year ago, she had surgery on one of her knees. 

She qualified for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, but never got a chance to finish a match after suffering a ruptured hamstring during warmup.

“I have been through a lot — Rio and then less than a year I got ACL reconstruction on one of my knees,” Lappage said, the acronym referring to a surgery for the anterior cruciate ligament.

“And honestly it’s — reflecting on that piece — moreso the mental piece to make it back from two major injuries in the last five years and make it back to the Olympics. 

“I am very proud that I overcame a lot — more than a lot of people have to ever in their life and I overcame (them) in the last few years — or five years, sorry — and I made it back here.

“I have a lot of people watching from Olds, Alberta, hello," she said with a wave. "I hope everybody knows that. 

“I did do my best. I tried. That was like 100 per cent of my effort and it just wasn’t good enough today. But I hope they know that I tried to make them proud out there and that was all I had to give today. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t enough,” she added.

Going into the Tokyo Olympics, Lappage had proven she could compete with the best in the world.

She won a silver medal in 65-kg class during the 2018 world championships and another silver in the 68-kg category during the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.

Lappage lives in Calgary where she has been a member of the University of Calgary Dinosaurs wrestling team. A teammate, Erica Wiebe, 32, who won gold during the 2016 Olympics, also lost out in Tokyo.

She was edged 5-4 by Epp Maee of Estonia on Saturday in the women’s 76-kilogram class. 

Like Lappage, Wiebe had a slight chance to compete further through the repechage if Maee kept winning, but the Estonian was beaten in the quarter-finals.

Also like Lappage, Wiebe had to recover from injuries on her way to the Tokyo Olympics. In her case, she suffered knee and ankle injuries.