The big winner on the international wrestling scene was Cougar Lease
Bertram, who placed fourth at the 1996 World University Championships in Tehran,
A fourth place in the World University Championships is not only an athletic achievement, but an academic achievement as well. Bertram had to quit wrestling last year due to a tough academic year.
"A year ago," said Leo McGee, Cougar Wrestling Coach, "it was difficult to convince Bertram that there was life beyond wrestling."
In high school, academics came easily to Bertram. Bertram's assumption was that university would be the same, and when it wasn't he was lost.
Bertram soon lost this outlook when he lost his spot on the
Canadian Junior National Team. One lost match can finish a wrestler on
the National Team, and furthermore there is no money in wrestling to
compensate for not having a career outside of sports.|
It wasn't long before Bertram's goals changed and he was back on track academically and athletically.
"I didn't really try my first year of university," said Bertram, "I was a bit of an arrogant kid."
Now academics are a top priority in connecting a strong mind with a healthy body.
Bertram feels that sports have aided him not only in a physical health aspect, but in a mental way as well. Winning the World University championships have just reinforced this idea for Bertram.
"What I learnt from the whole championship was that I am not far off
from winning the gold next time," said Bertram.
The championship was also an achievement for Canada. Since 1952, the former Soviet Union has has ruled world wrestling competition. Korea, Iran and Turkey have also been superior to Canada in the past.
Bertram wreslted and beat Iran, last year's former champion, and Korea with an easy pin. It was the bronze metal match against Turkey that threw Bertram off and landed him in a fourth place finish.
"The most important thing to myself," said Bertram, "is that now I know that you can become as good a wrestler in Regina, Canada as you can in Detroit, Michigan."