Danielle Lappage

Danielle Lappage

Excitement building in Olds for local athlete’s Olympic debut

Danielle Lappage is making Olds history.

Danielle Lappage is making Olds history.

The 25-year-old freestyle wrestler is the community’s first Olympic athlete and will compete on Aug. 18 in the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Doug Wagstaff, Olds chief operating officer, said there’s a lot of community support for Lappage and excitement has been growing.

“It really has picked up here in the last couple of weeks,” said Wagstaff.

Lappage, who trains with the Burnaby Mountain Wrestling Club, competes in the 63 kg weight class.

Earlier this year at the Olympic test game in Rio, she won the gold medal against China.

Her most difficult challenge to get to the Olympics was reconstructive ACL knee surgery in November of 2014.

Lappage grew up in Olds where she began wrestling in middle school at age 13 and started focusing on the sport in Grade 10 when she won the nationals.

A community fundraiser Loonie for Lappage raised $5,000 to help cover her living expenses while she trained. As part of the campaign, she was also presented in July with three Town of Olds flags signed by residents young and old.

“There were lots of message on there that were really heartwarming. She was very moved to get that. You couldn’t help but have a tear in your eye,” Wagstaff said.

Those flags made it all the way to Rio. Lappage hung the flags in the wrestlers’ practice room.

Wagstaff said the pride Lappage has shown in Olds, and Central Alberta, is really uplifting.

The town is working to bring residents together for a community event on Aug. 18 to watch Lappage compete.

The Olds Olympic favourite is one of six Canadian women wrestlers competing at the summer games.

szielinski@bprda.wpengine.com