Photo by Chung Chow
Jovan Dhaliwal isn’t a big talker. But his actions speak volumes.
A 2019 gold medallist at the recent provincial high school wrestling championships, the Grade 12 Matthew McNair Secondary student has been dedicated to his craft since he first stepped foot on the mat at age seven. He’s steadily progressed since then, and hopes to land a university athletic scholarship to continue his ascent up the wrestling ladder.
“It started with my dad,” explains the quiet-spoken Dhaliwal. “He was a wrestler in high school and he was pretty good.”
A silver medallist at the 2018 nationals, Dhaliwal likes that wrestling is an individual sport, where his performance mostly dictates the outcome.
“I try to always work on my mechanics. If I lose (a match) I try to fix them,” he says.
When it comes to practice, few wrestlers are as committed as Dhaliwal. He practices both before and after school, “usually at least two hours—sometimes more.”
“When I don’t get the results I want, I try to work even harder,” he says.
All the preparation clearly paid off at the provincials, where he dominated the boys’ 70-kilogram weight class though he insists he was “feeling pretty nervous before my first match.”
But a 14-1 win over his first-round opponent from Vancouver Island’s Cowichan Secondary proved he need not have been, though it clearly boosted his confidence for the remainder of the tournament.
He defeated his next two opponents from Abbotsford’s Rick Hansen Secondary and Maple Ridge Secondary by scores of 11-0 and 11-0, before pinning his opponent from Coquitlam’s Pinetree Secondary in three minutes, 40 seconds to win his division.
“When I won gold I was very happy,” says Dhaliwal, who got a heartfelt “good job” from his proud dad, Raj, who was on hand to watch the matches.
Proving that father knows best, the young Dhaliwal adhered to the sage advice of his dad “to stay in a good stance and look for your moves.”
“I think patience is my strongest suit,” he says.
But Dhaliwal never gets too far ahead of himself, believing there is always room for improvement. He has been training the past few months with coach Aso Palani in Newton. He says has helped improve his overall technique and fitness level.
He also sometimes practices alongside his younger brother, who has also taken up wrestling.
Dhaliwal is proof that if you want something badly enough, you’ll find a way.