To Our Friends in Wrestling Around the world


By William May
(Japan Amateur Wrestling Federation, Public Information Committee
Kyodo World Services, senior sports


   TUNIS (March 6) - Six-time world champion Christine Nordhagen of Canada wrestled at the Olympic qualification tournament for women's wrestling in Tunis, March 6-7. She took some time away from her preparations to answer some questions for the JWF website.

 Q. You won your last world championship in 2001 and we haven't see you for a couple of years. Were you retired for a while?

 CN: When I won the world championship in 2001, my knees really hurt. I was in a lot of pain with kind of an arthritis in my knees.Well, with the Olympics coming up in 2004, we decided that it would be a good time to have the knees cleaned up. So in June 2002, I had surgery on both knees and then started wrestling again that October. It felt good to be wrestling again, but it seems like just when I'd get going, then I'd have an injury and then another -- the neck, then the ribs. It was kind of discouraging since I wanted to be healthy and I wanted to wrestle. But I tried to stay positive.

Q. At the Japan Queens Cup competition last month, we saw the end of the competitive careers of former world champions Shoko Yoshimura and Miyu Yamamoto. But at 32, here you are at the Olympic qualifying tournament. What is the secret of your longevity?

CN: (Laughing) Well, I guess I just haven't been challenged by a stud athlete yet! You know, when I lost to Ohenewa (Akuffo), I was a little worried because she has always been dangerous and she has always given me a tough match. But, I've been around for a long time and I think I have a lot of experience which helps me now.

Q. So, how long have you been wrestling?

CN: Twelve years. But since I started wrestling at the age of 20, I've only been in senior wrestling. I think that that's a lot different than starting out with a little kids club and then wrestling for 12 years.

Q. What made you decide to take up wrestling?

CN: At university, I had to take a number of activities classes as part of my minor in physical education. One of the classes wrestling and since I've always liked wrestling I thought I would try it.

Q. What would you say is the biggest between your wrestling 12 years ago and now?

CN: In the beginning, of course, I was just trying to learn how to execute the moves. Now, I'm trying to learn the game. I guess I'm always trying to learn more about wrestling.

Q. What influence did Yayoi Urano have on your wrestling? (Note: Urano defeated Nordhagen in the finals of the 1993 world championships. She traveled to Canada in the 1990s and decided to marry a Canadian and move there.)

CN: Yayoi and I met in the finals of my first world championships, then she moved down a weight. So, we were never really rivals. When she started coming to Canada, I always had fun wrestling her. It's difficult to find a female who's at that level of wrestling, so I always enjoyed wrestling with her.

Q. Which world title would you say is your most memorable?

CN: It would be 2000. In 1998, I had won my third straight title at 68 kg, and Kyoko (Hamaguchi) was beginning to win regularly at 75 kg. So, Leigh and I discussed moving up a weight for a new challenge. Well, I lost to Kyoko in the semifinals of the 1999 world championships. And then, I lost to Edyta Witkowska (Poland) in January 2000. So, I could made the cut back to 68 kg and could have taken the easy way out, but I decided to stay. Then, I got food poisoning at the championships, so everything was working against me. I was really sick the first day, but managed to get through. I was supposed to wrestle Kyoko in the semifinals on the second day and I hadn't eaten for a couple days and felt really weak. But the semifinals were postponed to the next day and I had a chance to recover. Anyway, I beat Kyoko in the semifinals (Photo) and Eddy (Witkowska) in the finals for the championship. So, when I have a speaking engagement, I like to tell
people about the 2000 championship and the importance of accepting challenges and remaining positive.

Q. How would you describe Kyoko as an opponent?

CN: Kyoko's very strong and solid. She always stays in good position and it's hard to get her out of position. She's very good at waiting for her opponent to make mistakes and then taking her point.

Q: How would you describe Toccara (Montgomery of the United States)?

CN: Very explosive. It's like "Bam!" and she's in on a double-leg.

Q. And China's Wang Xu?

CN: Actually, I don't think I've ever wrestled her. But, I'm not sure.

Q. And (Stanka) Hristova of Bulgaria?

CN: I've never wrestled her, but after watching her I think she would be fun to wrestle. She's aggressive and I enjoy wrestling against offensive wrestlers. But, she's also young and she makes mistakes.

Q. And, Germany's (Anita) Schaetzle?

CN: She's a good technical wrestler, but she's not as physcially strong as some of the others.

Q. And, what are your goals for Athens?

CN: Of course, I would like to win it. I think the World Cup (in Tokyo) was good experience for me because I had a chance to wrestle some of the top people again. I lost my focus in a couple of matches, but it was a good test for me.