Abbotsford wrestler excels on the international stage

Abbotsford wrestler excels on the international stage

Jasmit Phulka is dreaming about the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics

After an international coming-out party on the mat in 2018, Abbotsford wrestler Jasmit Singh Phulka is seeking Olympics ambitions.

The 24-year-old Rick Hansen Secondary grad racked up podium finishes all across the globe this year, earning gold in his 74 kilogram weight class at Italy’s City of Sassari Wrestling Championship, bronze at the Mongolian Open and silver at the Grand Prix of Spain.

He also won the right to represent Canada at the 2018 Senior Wrestling World Championships with victories at the Canadian Wrestling World Team Trials in July.

The impressive results have Phulka dreaming big about representing Canada at the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics.

“I’m feeling pretty confident, especially with these last three tournaments,” he said. “It’s my best year ever for international results. It all seems to be coming together now for me.”

Phulka said he was drawn to the sport initially though his older brother Chanmit Phulka. He watched his brother excel on the mat from an early age, but he said growing up in Canada also created opportunities that other people in his family didn’t have.

“My grandpa used to do kabaddi back in India and my dad did powerlifting there also and they were both good athletes but in India they didn’t have the resources that we do here to get them into sports,” he said.

He quickly became involved in the wrestling program at Eugene Reimer Middle school, and began to ramp up his intensity from a young age.

“I used to have pictures of all the guys that beat me and were on the podium and when I woke up I would do 100 push-ups, 100 sit-ups and 100 squats. I started doing that in Grade 5,” he said.

Phulka also joined Abbotsford’s Miri Piri Wrestling Club and trained under local coach Sucha Mann. It was through the club that he was inspired to follow his Olympic dreams after he met Sucha’s brother Sujeet Mann, who represented India at the 2004 Summer Olympics.

“In our community we have a lot of doctors and teachers but we didn’t have anyone who was an Olympic wrestler,” he explained. “And meeting him really motivated me.”

His skill at the sport became obvious early on, as Phulka was regularly defeating much older wrestlers when he was in Grade 7 or 8. He moved on to Rick Hansen Secondary, collecting several provincial championships and winning a Youth Commonwealth Games gold medal in his Grade 11 year.

After high school, he briefly wrestled for the UFV Cascades, but sought more intense competition and began competing in international tournaments.

“My goal was to be the best in the world so I had to travel a lot,” he said, sharing that he also trains and works at Fresno State University in California to maintain his skills.

He’s also working with the Abbotsford Police Department as part of the mentorship program. Phulka spends at least four to five hours a month with a local youth, and the pair do an activity or just chat.

“I like to give back and I want to try and give kids something to look up to,” he said. “I didn’t have any Indo-Canadian role models growing up so if I can help, I want to.”

Phulka said he wants to compete on the mat for at least another decade.

“I want to go for three Olympics and wrestle for at least 10 more years,” he said. “I want to be well-known in the sport and win multiple medals, more so for my dad and brother because they’ve both invested so much time and energy into me.”

Next up for Phulka is the 2018 Senior Wrestling World Championships in Hungary, which run from Oct. 20 to 28.

Also upcoming are the Olympic trials and the Pan-Am Championships, which both help determine who will be on the Canadian Olympic team. Phulka has to win at the trials and finish in the top two at the Pan-Ams to guarantee a spot the Canadian wrestling team in Tokyo.

For more on Phulka, follow him at instagram.com/jphulka74.