Gold: Burnaby’s Justina Di Stasio wins gold at 2022 Commonwealth Games


Di Stasio beat Nigerian Hannah Rueben to finish on the top step of the podium.

Justina Di Stasio is gold again.

The Burnaby product won gold on Saturday (August 6) in Brimingham, England at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in the women’s 76kg freestyle wrestling category.

Di Stasio faced Nigeria’s Hannah Rueben in the final, who took a 1-0 lead at the break.

In the second half, the 29-year-old netted a four-point strikeout to take a 4-1 lead. She gave up just one more point and took gold with a 4-2 win.

“We had a game plan [for the gold medal match], I try to work on my two against one and adapt on the fly. Sometimes I give up on my game plan, but in this game when I heard my coach say something, I listened and I was able to do it. I needed to know I could do it and now I do,” Di Stasio told Wrestling Canada Lutte after the gold medal match.

“She [Rueben] was very strong, when I pulled her down I could feel she was strong enough to get back up so I let her go so I could squeeze through. I had to be patient because if I missed I knew she would know I was coming. I took her where I wanted three or four times, then I hit her.”

In her opener, Di Stasio picked up a 10-0 win over Australia’s Naomi De Bruine which propelled her into the semi-finals against India’s Pooja Pooja.

She had a tougher competition in the semi-finals with India’s Pooja Shiag, but pulled off a 6-0 win and qualified for the gold medal bout.

Di Stasio, who lives in Coquitlam, already had several medals to his credit, including gold medals at the 2018 World Championships and 2019 Pan Am Games, as well as four more gold medals at previous Pan Am Championships.

She has also been open about her experience with mental health and anxiety, and in August 2021 wrote a letter through the BC Women’s Health Foundation, detailing her struggles and saying the focus on his mental health had become a priority during the Olympic trials in December 2019. .

“I felt like I needed to win, and the fear of failure was all I thought about. I didn’t know it at the time, but my anxiety was taking over.” she writes.

“Normally a bit of performance anxiety helps me prepare and focus, but this time it was different – the pressure was overwhelming and I couldn’t find a way to calm myself down.

“I didn’t make the Olympic team, but I got an Olympic alternate position by finishing second. Watching the last games of the trials, I looked too scared to make a mistake. J felt like I stood out for two games and missed the chance.

Di Stasio explained that she knew she had to deal with the failure of her goal in a healthy way.

However, like many others, she said she was afraid to admit she needed help.

“I kept wondering why I felt so down and guilty for feeling bad when things in my life were ‘good.’ not that you’re too good at therapy. I had thought that if I went to therapy, I might take the resource away from someone else who really needed help. Turns out I had really need help!”

Di Stasio began therapy for his anxiety in January 2020, with support from Wrestling Canada.

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