SHS wrestling coach heading for Olympics
Selwyn House Assistant Wrestling Coach Cleo Ncube has successfully completed the first stage in his quest to represent Canada in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janiero.
On December 5 in Edmonton, Cleo defeated a string of opponents to win the 74-kg class at the Canadian Freestyle Olympic Wrestling Team Trials. Trial winners are nominated to represent Canada through the qualification process for the Rio Games.
Coming to Canada as a child from his native Zimbabwe, Cleo grew up in Kingston, where he started his wrestling career in high school. He won championships at university, as well as in provincial and national competitions.
Twice before, Cleo’s Olympic aspirations were cut short by injury. He dislocated his elbow while qualifying for the China Games in 2007, and a torn meniscus kept him out of the 2012 Olympics in London.
But he has come back to win medals in his last six international competitions, and a fifth-place finish at the 2014 World Championships in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.
Cleo had just completed extensive therapy for two herniated discs when, five weeks before the Edmonton trials, he pulled a hamstring. Less than two weeks before Edmonton he was considering pulling out of the competition.
But his hamstring cleared up and he went on to win his weight category in impressive style.
In Edmonton the seven-man competition featured the top three finishers at the national championships as well as a pool consisting of the next best four, Cleo included. To earn a spot in the 2016 Games, a competitor would have to run a sweep and defeat them all, which Cleo did.
The winners from Edmonton move on to the March Pan American Olympic qualifier in Frisco, Texas, for their first chance to qualify for the 2016 Olympics, which Cleo must do in order to compete in Rio. If he fails in Texas, he will still have a chance to qualify by finishing in the top-three at tournaments in Turkey and/or Mongolia.
Going into the Edmonton competition, Selwyn House head Wrestling Coach Rob Moore predicted Cleo could make the Canadian Olympic team. “He led the Canadian team in medals during the course of this last quadrennial,” Rob says. “He’s been Canada’s most consistent performer during this time, and he continues to improve.”