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Surrey pair wrestle their way to Olympics — one returning, one for the first time

Surrey-raised wrestlers Amar Dhesi and Ana Godinez Gonzalez have both qualified for Olympic competition in Paris this summer. (Photos:

Two wrestlers with Surrey roots have grappled their way to the 2024 Summer Olympics.

Ana Godinez Gonzalez (62kg category) earned her ticket to Paris on Feb. 29 at the Pan American Olympic Qualifier in Acapulco, Mexico, paving the way for her first Olympic appearance.

A day later, on March 1, Amar Dhesi dominated in his 125kg semifinal, earning the 11-0 victory, as Canada’s lone returnee from the Tokyo 2020 team attempting to qualify once again.

“Going in,” Dhesi said, “I definitely thought that if I could do anywhere close to my best, I’d get another shot at the Olympics, that good things would happen.”

At the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, delayed until 2021 due to the COVID pandemic, Dhesi finished 13th in his freestyle weight class, and hopes to do much better in Paris.

“After my Olympic year, I feel like I had my best year in 2022, and also with what I accomplished at the world championships the following year, in 2023,” Dhesi said. “I’m just knocking on the door, right, close to a medal. I’m trying to break through and get that medal.”

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Dhesi wrestled for first place at both the 2022 Commonwealth Games in England and Pan-American Wrestling Championships in Mexico.

Now 28, Dhesi says he had “a tough road coming back” to wrestling after taking time away from the sport, becoming a police officer in Vancouver. He’s been given a leave of absence from the force until after the Summer Games, and is now training with other wrestlers in Ohio.

• RELATED: South Surrey wrestling sisters have sights set on 2024 Olympics.

An Earl Marriott Secondary grad, Godinez Gonzalez had earlier competed at the Pan Am Championships in an effort to improve her seeding for the qualifier, which she did. That strategic decision put her on the opposite side of the 62kg bracket from American Kayla Miracle, so she wouldn’t have to go through the two-time world silver medallist to get to Paris. In the semifinal, Godinez Gonzalez defeated Brazilian Lais Nunes for a second straight week to secure her Olympic spot.

“Honestly I have no words, I am really happy, but it is a feeling I can’t explain, I have never felt this accomplished,” Godinez Gonzalez said in a post on “It (the final match) was stressful, I just made sure I was focused and was able to pull through.”

Ana’s sister Karla Godinez Gonzalez lost in the quarter final to Laura Herin Avila of Cuba, but has another shot at a trip to Paris during a final World Olympic Qualifier, May 9-12 in Istanbul, Turkiye.

Last time at the Olympics, Dhesi and other athletes were locked down in Tokyo and not allowed to socialize much.

“I was hoping to get the full experience last time, but obviously during COVID, it wasn’t. This time I’m looking forward to everything that the Olympics bring, so hopefully it’ll be a fun time,” he said.

“Hopefully I can bring back a medal for Canada.”

Tom Zillich

About the Author: Tom Zillich

I cover entertainment, sports and news for Surrey Now-Leader and Black Press Media
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