A Vanier graduate will have the chance to make her dream come true this summer at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
When Dorothy “Dori” Yeats qualified for the Olympics in the 69-kilogram division at the Pan American qualifier in Frisco, Texas this month, she was excited, but the pressure was on. “Everything I’ve done this year has been towards qualifying . . . It’s not enough to have just made it. I want to make it, perform there and come back with an Olympic medal,” she said.
Her dream of standing on the Olympic podium goes back to her childhood, where watching the Olympics together was a Yeats family tradition. It runs in the blood. Her father, Doug Yeats, is a five-time Olympian wrestler. So, for Yeats, competing in the Olympics seemed like a natural goal.
The moment that defined her dream of winning gold against the world was in 2004, when she saw Canadian gymnast Kyle Shewfelt take first place in floor exercise.
“To see his face when he stepped on the podium, and then every Olympic medal that Canada’s won after that, watching their faces . . . I was like, ‘that’s exactly where I want to be.’”
Her original goal was also to compete in the Olympics as a gymnast, a sport that Yeats practiced for six years, starting when she was seven-years-old.
After a series of setbacks, Yeats realised that if she was going to make it to the Olympics, she had to find a sport that could be started at an older age. She narrowed her options down to water polo, rugby or wrestling. « I played rugby at my high school and I was a super ball hog, so I figured pretty quickly that I’m not cut out for team sports. That just left wrestling. »
When she first started, Yeats “hated it.” Thanks to a bet with her father to not quit for one year, she stuck with it and excelled rapidly, something she attributes to her athletic upbringing. She now has five gold medals under her wrestling belt.
Leading up to Rio, Yeats is preparing for two tournaments with the goal of showing her opponents what she’s made of. Training your mind and making a statement is what makes the difference at that level, Yeats explained. She doesn’t run from fear, either.
“All people struggle with [doubt]. It’s a constant mind game. That’s one of the challenges. If you walk around thinking that everything’s going to go right then you’re caught off guard when something does go wrong.”
The summer Olympics take place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, August 5-21.