Three Nuu-chah-nulth wrestlers returned home on the weekend with some hardware from the North American Indigenous Games (NAIG).
The medallists included siblings Mayben and Ottis-James Crabbe, members of the Tla-o-qhi-aht First Nation.
Mayben Crabbe captured the gold medal in the girls’ 80-kilogram category while her brother won the silver medal in his 58-kilogram grouping.
And Jayden Iversen, from the Hesquiaht First Nation, ended up winning the bronze medal in his 69-kilogram weight class.
Rob Smyth, a North Vanvouver resident, served as the head coach of the B.C. wrestling contingent at the NAIG. Since he didn’t know the NCN wrestlers prior to the Games, Smyth admitted he didn’t know how they would fare.
“I didn’t know the kids to be honest,” he said. “But over-all I was extremely pleased with their results.”
Almost every single member of the Team B.C. wrestling squad brought home a medal.
“I think it’s massive (to win a medal at the NAIG),” Smyth said. “We had 10 wrestlers and nine people medalled. For us, we’re just really proud of all of them.”
Mayben Crabbe was considered a medal contender heading into the NAIG. Representing Ucluelet Secondary School she had captured a gold medal at the provincial high school championships this past March in Salmon Arm.
She’ll be continuing her academic and athletic career at the University of Calgary this September.
Mayben Crabbe won all three of her matches at the NAIG. Her weight class featured six entrants.
“She handled all her competition convincingly,” Smyth said. “She has this calm demeanour and then she goes into machine mode when she wrestles.”
Smyth also had plenty of praise for Ottis-James Crabbe.
“His athleticism is very good,” Smyth said. “And he’s a good listener. He adjusts well in his matches to do what he’s supposed to be doing.”
The boys’ 58-kilogram class attracted four participants. Medals were awarded to the participants after round-robin action. Crabbe won his silver medal by winning two of his three matches.
Smyth was also impressed with Iversen’s performances. There were nine entrants in the boys’ 69-kilogram division.
Iversen advanced to the bronze-medal match after posting a 2-1 round-robin record.
“He was a very inspiring guy,” Smyth said. “He worked extremely hard.”
Smyth said Iversen was battling a sore neck near the later portions of his event.
“He wasn’t expecting to win his last match,” he said. “But he did what he had to do to win.”
The week-long NAIG, which concluded on Saturday, were primarily held in Toronto. Some nearby communities also hosted some of the sports.
Wrestling matches were staged at the Toronto Track and Field Centre, located on the campus of York University.
About 5,000 participants from across Canada and the United States competed at the Games.
Besides wrestling, 13 other sports were contested at this year’s NAIG. They were archery, athletics, badminton, baseball, basketball, canoeing/kayaking, golf, lacrosse, rifle shooting, soccer, softball, swimming and volleyball.
Team B.C., which included about 20 Nuu-chah-nulth athletes, ended up winning the over-all title in the medal standings.
B.C. finished up with 179 medals, including 67 gold. Saskatchewan ended up in second place with 166 medals while host Ontario placed third with 137 medals.