Volume 92, Issue 68
Thursday, January 28, 1999
Wrestler keeps mind over matter
© Dipesh Mistry/Gazette
By Dave Elia
Western Mustang wrestler Belinda Chou epitomizes the dedication to one's sport which is needed to be a winner.
Chou, a second-year kineseology student, began wrestling at the secondary school level in her hometown of North York. She came to Western based on the strength of its wrestling program, but when she arrived she was quite surprised to be the only woman competing.
"It was really difficult being the only girl on the team, but this year is much better," she said.
Currently the Mustang program has seven women competing, with Chou the most experienced on the squad.
"She has handled it well," said Western head coach Ray Takahashi. "She has really taken a leadership role with the other girls."
Her teammates are quick to praise Chou for her commanding role.
"She always wants to help, she's a team player," said teammate Ruth Frei.
Teammate Rachel Dean agreed with Frei's comments, adding Chou has also provided important tutelage in a number of key areas for all the women on the club, whether it has been technique, groundwork or as a motivating factor.
"She's very serious, very dedicated. She wants to do well all the time," Dean said.
For people who do not wrestle, physical contact and sparring on the mat seem synonymous with the sport. However, according to Takahashi, mental strength is also a key in being successful.
"Belinda fits the mold. She meets the physical and mental challenges," Takahashi said, adding most lack this important attribute which he said turns a lot of people off the sport. "It's like writing an exam you don't want to choke."
Chou is well aware of the importance of focus and prides herself on her mental toughness.
"Coach Takahashi has taught me not to worry about the next tournament or the national championships, but towards the next match," Chou said. "It's about staying focused."
Ironically, Chou said she believes she is physically weaker than most of the women she wrestles in her 61 kilogram weight class. However, her teammates agree she more than makes up for it with technical skill.
"Although she's smaller, technically she's amazing and that's why she wins," Dean said. "I've told her before that she has no weakness, she's a good all around athlete"
This year Chou has added two gold medals and three silvers to her impressive resume which includes championships at the Ontario University Athletics championships last year.
Although Chou knows in three weeks she will have to prepare for the OUA championship, this weekend Western hosts the Western Open. If the years of training have prepared her accordingly, she will take each tournament one at a time, focusing on the task at hand.
Copyright © The Gazette 1999