The Olympic and Paralympic Games are officially over now for another four years. People across the country watched our best Canadian athletes, and some home towns were proud to be able to follow local stars. Are there any Olympians from the Peace Country?
There is one, at least. And Christine Nordhagen is not only an Olympic champion, but also a pioneer in her sport, Women’s Wrestling.
Born in Valhalla Centre, Nordhagen credits hard work on the family farm for her strength and motivation. It wasn’t until she was attending the University of Alberta that she began wrestling, and she certainly took to it – despite being the only female on the university’s team. That extra challenge first proved her mettle, and she carried on defeating opponents all over the world. Nordhagen brought home 10 Canadian Championships and six World Championship titles in 12 years.
Success in the sport could have ended there, but there was one more prize to be won. Nordhagen and other female wrestlers were instrumental in bringing Women’s Wrestling to the Olympic arena in time for the 2004 Olympics in Athens. Nordhagen placed fifth in her category.
When Christine Nordhagen began her wrestling career, only 150 women were registered in the sport throughout Canada. When she retired from competition a year after her Olympic showing, there were more than 4000.
Retiring from competition didn’t mean ending her involvement with wrestling. Nordhagen founded her own company, Wrestling Excellence Ltd. She is an assistant coach for Canadian Wrestling, a motivational speaker, and host of the Nordhagen Classic, an international tournament for junior female wrestlers.
Christine Nordhagen is the most decorated female athlete in the history of wrestling. The list of her accomplishments is long, but here are some more highlights:
International Female Wrestler of the Year in 1997
Inductee into Canada’s Wrestling Hall of Fame (first-ever female inductee to both the FILA and CAWA Halls of fame)
Inductee into Alberta Sports Hall of Fame
Member of the International Museum of Women
That’s a whole lot to come out of a small place like Valhalla! Never underestimate the power of the people of the Peace 🙂
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