WINNIPEG – Commonwealth Gold Medalist and top Indo-Canadian wrestler Arjan Bhullar is a step closer to wrestling at next summer's Olympic Games in London, England.Bhullar won the men's heavyweight (120 kilograms) division at Wrestling Canada's qualification trials Saturday in Winnipeg. He defeated Sunny Dhinsa 2-1 in the best-of-three matches final.Bhullar, 26, who won the gold medal at last year's Commonwealth Games in New Dehli,qualified for the Olympic trials with his win last Saturday.The five time Canadian heavyweight wrestling champion and wrestled in the 120 kg class and matched up against the 260 pound wrestling sensation Dhinsa, winning the best out of a three match against his fellow SFU mate.
This was Bhullar’s second time winning the Olympic trials. He last won in 2008 but lost by a narrow margin on a total point difference in the final standings to a Cuban wrestler.
Besides Bhullar, the prestigious Burnaby Mountain Wrestling Club at SFU also had John Pineda (60kg), Hiaslan Garcis (66 kg), and Matt Gentry (74 kg) make it to the next level of the trials.
The Olympic trials came with a big challenge for Bhullar of not only facing a tough opponent but also dealing with some injuries which seemed to pop up at the worst possible time.
“Preparing for the trials was a lot more different and difficult than last time. Both me and my opponent, who is also a teammate from SFU, knew we were going to face each other in the finals and that made it a little bit awkward to prepare”, said Bhullar, who will now give his body some rest and then start preparing for the Pan Am Games in Orlando being held in March.
A placing in the top two spots guarantees an entry to the 2012 Olympics. There are two more international tournaments afterwards, in China and Finland, which will also serve as qualifiers. The top three in those events will qualify for the Olympics.
Bhullar is excited about his chances of going to the Olympics.
“I truly believe deep down that it is my destiny to wrestle in the Olympics and win a medal for Canada. I have been successful at every other level and I truly believe that this is going to be my year,” he said.
Bhullar’s last international victory came at the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi where he won gold. Most of his family and many relatives attended and no doubt if he wins the Olympic qualifier they will again be cheering for him and team Canada in London, England.
In addition, a film crew will be present. A documentary on Bhullar’s career and his “Journey to the Olympics” is being directed by well known Vancouver-based filmmaker R. Paul Dhillon (editor of the LINK newspaper) which will be broadcast nationally.
“All I have to do is make sure I do my part, which is win”, stated Bhullar jokingly.
Besides wrestling, Bhullar has been involved with community work. He was chosen, along with some BC Lions players, to take part in a federally and provincially funded program called EvaBC.
This program is geared towards and stands for “Ending Violence against Women”. “Statistically BC has the highest rate of violence against women in Canada and almost all the perpetrators are men”, said Bhullar. He will now be a part of an awareness campaign along with Lions.
In addition, Bhullar was recently trained by the “Esteem Team” which is part of a national program that involves elite level athletes that speak to the youth and children in the community. This is an effort to inspire them to succeed and have positive goals.
Bhullar remembers attending one of the events as a youngster.
“I was a grade four student at the school assembly and I was inspired by team founder and World Champion Chris Wilson. So it’s very cool that now I can finally be a part of the same organization and give back. People may not realize how much effect this has on youngsters but I know personally that it is very inspiring and that is why I chose to become involved with this great program,”
Bhullar said. Perhaps Bhullar will inspire another youngster to follow his footsteps just as World Champion Chris Wilson, who is considered to be the most accomplished Canadian born wrestler in history, inspired him.