Canadian Linda Morais set to fight for gold at world wrestling championships

NUR-SULTAN, Kazakhstan — Canada’s Linda Morais will go for gold in the women’s 59-kilogram division at the world wrestling championships.

But reigning Olympic champion Erica Wiebe lost her 76-kilogram quarterfinal against Estonia’s Epp Mae. The 30-year-old from Stittsville, Ont., led 3-1 with under five seconds to go, only to see Mae score a takedown before time ran out.

A failed Canadian challenge brought the final score to 4-3 for Mae.

“When you train so hard and you make mistakes mentally, you don’t wrestle for the full six minutes, that’s what happens,” said Wiebe, sporting a bloody nose. “This year, I’ve gone through a lot of challenges, mentally, physically, emotionally, I honestly thought I was going to be better than that today.

Wiebe, who won bronze at the 2018 worlds, had defeated Aiperi Kyzy of Kyrgyzstan 5-0 and Hungary’s Zsanett Nemeth 5-1 previously.

Morais, meanwhile, beat Mongolia’s Shoovdor Baatarjav 3-1 on Wednesday to earn a berth in Thursday’s final. The 26-year-old from Tecumseh, Ont., will face Russian Liubov Ovcharova.

“It’s so surreal, I’m so excited,” said Morais. “This year has been amazing so far and I’m hoping to end it with gold. It was a tough match, physically I felt OK, but mentally it was such a challenge.

“Going match after match against incredible opponents is so tough.”

Morais also beat Tetiana Omelchenko of Azerbaijan and Ukraine’s Anhelina Lysak on Wednesday.

Morais won bronze at 60 kg at the 2016 world championships. She’s also a two-time world university champion.

Jade Parsons of Orillia, Ont., lost 6-2 to Russian Olga Khoroshavtseva in a 55-kilogram repechage, preventing her from fighting in the bronze-medal bout.

Hannah Taylor (57 kg) of Cornwall, P.E.I., and Jessica Brouillette (65 kg) of Barrie, Ont., also were eliminated from medal contention on Wednesday.

A top six finish at the world championships qualifies a quota spot for Canada in that weight class in the Olympics. An athlete who finishes in the top six gets a bye to the finals at the Canadian wrestling trials in December.

A top-two finish at a 2020 continental qualification tournament also earns a quota spot for the Tokyo Games.

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