August 6-21, 2022
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by: Bernie Puchalski, BP Sports Niagara

A homecoming for Zubin Gatta at the Niagara 2022 Canada Summer Games

Wrestler Zubin Gatta is loving the opportunity to compete in the Canada Summer Games close to home.

“It’s amazing that it’s at my home court,” the Grade 12 student at Eden said. “I can have all my friends, family, all my teammates and even some Eden staff is coming, so it’s really cool.”

Equally cool was a chance to participate in the 2022 Canada Summer Games’ Opening Ceremony Saturday night at the Meridian Centre.

“Yeah, it was amazing, all the lights and everything, all the cameras,” the 16-year-old Niagara-on-the-Lake resident said. “It was awesome.”

He is looking forward to the entire Games experience.

“I think it’s just competing with these guys. We went to New Jersey last weekend and we did a tournament in the same format as this one. The energy was amazing.”

The long-time Brock Wrestling Club member has high expectations for this week at the Games.

“I think I’m not gonna go in with the goal of anything less than gold,” the five-time provincial champion said.

Setting the bar high is crucial for Gatta.

“I think that’s what I didn’t do at nationals. I settled for ‘OK, if I lose to this guy, I can still get third,’ and then I lost. ‘I can still get fifth’ and then I lost, so I think it’s gold or nothing here.”

Gatta felt there were a couple of factors that resulted him placing sixth at cadet nationals. The first was wrestling up a weight class at 55 kilograms instead of 52 kilograms which is what he is wrestling at this week. He also felt he wasn’t mentally prepared.

“I physically trained for a long time before it and I didn’t focus on the mental part of it at all and I think that’s why I am charged up here. I’m really mentally sharp and technically sharp.”

The 2022 Ontario champion believes he has made significant progress in his wrestling over the past year.

“I think obviously training with the varsity team, it’s a lot of the technical stuff that I’ve gained, but I’ve also had more fun now,” he said. “I was going through kind of not enjoying wrestling as much last year, and I was like ‘Oh I don’t wanna go to practice. I don’t wanna wake up and go run.’ But I’m enjoying it now, especially being a part of this team here. I’m enjoying it a lot more, so it makes it more fun.”

He points to starting training with the Brock varsity team as when the fun returned.

“I had a few of them that I looked up to and now I’m hanging out with them every day and they’re telling me stuff, they’re giving me advice, and they’re showing me how to make it fun again.”

It won’t be long before Gatta becomes a teammate with some of them on the Brock varsity squad.

“I think the obvious choice is Brock University and I think that’s my No. 1 choice. The coaches and especially all the other athletes, they make it feel like such a family. Even though I’m not on the varsity team yet, I feel like I am right now.”

One area Gatta has had to get used to is a rapid rise up the weight classes. In Grade 9, he was the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations’ champion at 38 kilograms and now he is 14 kilograms heavier. Surprisingly, he feels it has been an advantage.

“I think more than a tough adjustment, it’s been a help from the muscle that I’ve gained because I had the technique and when I was wrestling up weight classes, the one thing I was lacking was size obviously. Now that I have that size, I think it’s a little bit of an advantage.”

Team Ontario and Brock Wrestling Club coach Heather Sweezey likes how Gatta is trending.

“Zubin’s been wrestling forever and I think we’ve seen a big jump this year. He’s been training at Brock a lot and we’ve seen his technique really progress. He had a rough nationals but he’s looking really sharp. He’s down a weight class for the Canada Games and I think he’ll be pretty successful here.”

Sweezey feels Gatta is better suited for the 52-kilogram division. “He will grow into a 55 but he hasn’t yet,” she said. “It’s been a big jump from his Grade 9 year until now in his Grade 11 year when there hasn’t been really any wrestling since COVID. It was a transition time and I think he’s kind of fitting into this now.”

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