To begin our coverage of the 2012 Women’s World Championships, Ashley McKilligan was kind enough to answer a few questions. Competing in her first Senior World Championships, Ashley will be representing Canada at 48 kg.
49 North: How did you first become involved in wrestling?
McKilligan: I first got into wrestling because my twin brother did it and we wanted to do a sport together. I resisted for a few years, but him and my first wrestling coach (Ian McDonald) finally dragged my butt into practice and I’ve loved it ever since!
49 North: This is your first time competing at the Senior World Championships. Do you feel this provides any advantages? What obstacles do you think you’ll have to overcome and how do you plan on doing so?
McKilligan: I’ve felt like I have been right there with the top girls in the world for a few years now, but just hadn’t gotten that “breakthrough” until this season. I am really excited for the opportunity and I think that my preparation and focus going into the worlds will give me an advantage, rather than it being my first world championship! My goals for this world championship are to wrestle my absolute hardest for every point and stay on the offense.
49 North: This is the first World Championships hosted by Canada since 1993. What do you think this event will do for Canadian Wrestling on both a domestic and global scale?
McKilligan: I hope that having such a huge international event close to home will attract new people to the sport and will also get the young up-and-coming wrestlers excited for the possibilities of the future.
49 North: How important is it to compete on home soil in front of your friends and family at such an important event?
McKilligan: Competing at the worlds at home is such a unique opportunity and I am really excited to bring it in front of my friends, family, and especially my team (Saskatoon Wrestling Club) who are all cramming into a van to come watch!
49 North: Where have you been training for this event? Have you done anything differently than you might for another event?
McKilligan: I am doing my best to prepare for this event like I would for any other competition! At the end of the day, my goal is to constantly improve my wrestling and I feel like I’ve been on the right track with that leading into worlds. I train in Saskatoon, but just spent a week and a bit in Calgary to change it up and wrestle some different partners, which was really good for me.
49 North: Is there a specific opponent you expect/want to face? Do you train for certain individuals more than others or does your training remain more general?
McKilligan: That’s a tough question! I have a lot of fun wrestling Clarissa Chun (USA) because there’s always so much action. Someone I’ve really wanted to wrestle is Mariya Stadnik (AZE) but I don’t think she will be at worlds. Really though, I know I can’t control the draw (even though I’d like to sometimes!) so I am excited for every match, regardless of who I’m wrestling!
I generally train to sharpen my own skills so I can put pressure on my opponents and execute my offense. I look at video so I can have an idea of a specific opponent’s tendencies and make a plan for how I am going to create opportunities.
49 North: Since this is the beginning of a new Olympic cycle, do your current plans have you looking at Rio 2016?
McKilligan: Definitely. I love wrestling and as long as I am having fun doing it I will keep on going!
49 North: Generally speaking, do you have a favourite match you were involved in? Why was this match important to you?
McKilligan: Wow… that’s a really hard one! I think my final match at the Hargobind this past season (2011) is my favorite match. Victoria Anthony (USA) is really fun to wrestle because she isn’t afraid to try things! I was really proud of myself for stepping it up under pressure – I felt so relaxed and confident, and was able to execute my offence from lots of different situations. I think it was a big turning point for my wrestling.
49 North: Is there anyone you’d like to acknowledge?
McKilligan: My coach Todd Hinds… he’s the man! I fell into a bit of a wrestling rut a few years ago and wasn’t sure if I was going to continue, and Todd helped me believe in myself again and fall back in love with wrestling and I owe him a lot for that.
Oh, and he answers my thousands of questions, no matter how stupid they are!