Canada Games Alumni Profile

3/12/20
Bernie Puchalski, BP Sports Niagara

Canada Games Alumni Spotlight: Clayton Pye

A show of hands at a recent Brock Wrestling Club practice produced at least a half dozen athletes who had previously competed at the Canada Games.

One of those raised hands belonged to 24-year-old Ingersoll native Clayton Pye, who won the 86-kilogram division at the Olympic wrestling trials in December in Niagara Falls and gold in the 100-kilogram division at the U SPORTS championships Feb. 22 at Brock University.

Pye was an 18-year-old member of Team Ontario at the 2013 Canada Summer Games in Sherbrooke, Que. He won a silver medal in the 76-kilogram weight class, losing 3-1 in the final to Nik Matycio of Edmonton, and took home a gold medal in the team event by compiling a perfect 5-0 record.

Almost seven years later, the Canada Games are still fresh in his memory.

“Honestly, there are so many things that I remember. That was the jump-off point of my wrestling career.” said the five-time U SPORTS medalist. “Before that, I was making sixth place at high school tournaments and then I got myself a good coach and won provincials to cement my spot at the Ontario trials.”

Training at the Harry Geris Wrestling Club, Pye arrived at the Team Ontario training camp as a relative unknown.

“I joined the Ontario team and everyone was asking where this Pye kid had come from, but I think that’s what Canada Summer Games is for a lot of kids,” he said. “That’s the spot where you really begin your journey.”

He remembers just how inspiring the Games were to him.

“I got second which was huge,” Pye said. “I hadn’t placed anywhere at a national tournament before that and to do it on such a grand scale and to bring home a medal to my hometown while representing my province was very inspirational.

“It obviously led me down a path to where I am now, representing my country.”

Away from the heated competition of the wrestling mats, Pye soaked in the atmosphere and caught his breath in the athletes village at Bishop’s University’s campus.

“It was really cool and I imagined it was like what the Olympic athletes village would look like,” he said. “We had a buffet meal area that we would go to and there were events we could go to every night, of course, on the nights we weren’t nervous about our competition on the next morning.”

One particular activity attracted Pye the most.

“The big thing that I was really into was the trading of the pins. You got pins from your province and you traded them with other people,” he said. “Everyone wants the Nunavut pins because they usually only bring one team and it’s usually the wrestlers. I traded the clothes off my back for some of those pins.”

That year, Nunavut’s entire team consisted of three wrestlers.

“It’s really great to not only to get a taste of what it feels like to perform on a stage unlike most tournaments you go to, but it’s also fun to meet lots of new people,” he said.

Pye is eagerly anticipating the Niagara 2021 Canada Summer Games which will be staged in the Niagara Region from Aug. 6 to Aug. 21.

“I am looking forward to seeing the next generation of athletes and not just the wrestlers,” he said. “When I was at the Canada Summer Games, I went and watched other sports too and it was really exciting seeing these young men and women performing just before they were about to peak and enter the greater world of sport.”

Pye is hoping he will be an Olympian by the time the Games come to Niagara. The Brock University student will be trying to qualify for his first Olympics March 13-15 in Ottawa at the Pan-American Olympic Qualification Tournament.

This report was filed by BP Sports Niagara, which is owned and operated by Bernie Puchalski and Bill Potrecz.

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