PORT HARDY—Recent Port Hardy Secondary School grads Dusty Cadwallader and Graeme Wiggins did not see the Olympics in person when the Games appeared just across the inlet in Vancouver in 2010.
But they’ll be right in the middle of the action later this summer when London hosts the 2012 Summer Olympics.
Cadwallader and Wiggins, members of the PHSS wrestling team who both qualified for an competed in B.C.’s provincial high school wrestling championships, will travel with a delegation from the Alberni Valley Secondary School wrestling club next week to tour and compete throughout Europe. The 18-day trip will wrap up with an Aug. 8-11 stay in London, where the group has a number of tickets for Olympic men’s and women’s wrestling preliminaries and finals, taekwondo and handball events.
“This’ll be the first Olympics I’ve seen in person,” said Wiggins, who graduated along with Cadwallader from PHSS last month.
Whalers wrestling coach Joe Humphries said the trip was fitting for the pair, who were part of his first team when he arrived here five years ago to revive what had been a dormant wrestling program at the school.
Cadwallader first heard about the trip last summer, when he attended a summer wrestling camp in Port Alberni. When he returned to Port Hardy, he told Wiggins about the opportunity.
“I thought, I’d love to go,” said Cadwallader. “It’d be awesome.”
The wrestlers will fly from Vancouver to Frankfurt, Germany next Friday to start a tour that will include stops in the Czech Republic, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Paris before a rail trip on the high-speed Eurostar through the Channel Tunnel to England.
Three of those stops will include dual wrestling meets between the Canadian visitors and host wrestling clubs in Halbergoos, Germany, Inzing, Austria, and Gamprin, Liechtenstein.
“I have no expectations, because I have no idea how good those guys are,” said Cadwallader. “Winning would be a treat.”
There will be treats all around, regardless of the results on the mat. The wrestlers will be hosted by local families in each community and treated to a local traditional dinner as the wrestlers exchange gifts.
“The District (of Port Hardy) gave them some of our Port Hardy pins, and the museum gave us a discount on a few item they will hand out,” said Joanne Wiggins, Graeme’s mother. “Also, they received a District flag, and they hope to wave that at the Olympics.”
Because of the logistics of travel on Vancouver Island, the two did not take part in group fund-raising activities with the Port Alberni club. Instead, they’re relying on money raised from jobs and family.
“Basically, it’s my grad present,” Wiggins said.
Cadwallader and Wiggins played soccer this spring and have stayed in basic physical condition. But both admit they’ve done little in the way of wrestling practice or conditioning since their season ended in late winter.
“I’m looking forward to it, but I definitely haven’t gotten any better since I wrestled at provincials,” Wiggins said with a laugh. “I kind of figured I was finished with wrestling.”
The two will remain classmates of sorts beginning this fall, when both enroll at North Island College’s Comox campus. Cadwallader plans to study physics, while Wiggins will take courses in kinesiology.