After about 20 years in the sport, Guelph’s Korey Jarvis has decided to bring his competitive wrestling career to an end.
The decision to leave the mat came about as a result of a few things: He lost at the Canadian Olympic Trials last December, turned 34 last month and figured it would be another grind to get ready to try to qualify for the 2024 Olympics. And there was also the pandemic.
“When you get older, you can't push yourself and recover like you did when you were younger and when you do push yourself you have to take the extra time off to recover,” he said. “I just couldn't push myself as hard as I could when I was a bit younger to get where I needed to be.”
Competing for the Guelph Wrestling Club at the Olympic Trials in Niagara last December, Jarvis finished as the runner-up to Amarveer Dhesi of Burnaby Mountain Wrestling Club.
“That put me as an alternate,” Jarvis said.
After the Trials, Jarvis had planned to take it easy for a bit before getting back on the mat.
“I knew I was going to take some time off after that and I was going to assess the situation and I was going to take some time away from the mat,” he said.
“I went and worked out with the guys a couple of times and was in the room a few times and then COVID hit.
"It was just not being able to train and stuff, the way I was thinking was that I don't see myself being able to train like an Olympic medallist any more just because of the way my body has been feeling and the (wrestling) partners that I've been struggling to get. It's just been hard to keep up the training like I was before 2016 so it was just time to call it a day.”
While Jarvis might be done with competing, he isn’t done with wrestling.
“I'd love to stay involved with it and I've already spoke to Canada Wrestling about working with some of the younger athletes, the up-and-comers,” he said. “It's definitely something I want to do in the future and definitely be involved in the sport still.”
Helping other wrestlers wouldn’t be anything new to Jarvis as it’s something he routinely did with the GWC during the last decade or so.
“I was that person before,” he said. “I was that young person in the room and I was very lucky to have some great guys in the room with me to always take me aside and give me tips so I'm more than happy to share any of my wisdom that I do know from wrestling with any of the younger male or female athletes.”
Jarvis counts competing in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro as they highlight of his career on the mat. He finished eighth.
“Basically the highlight was making the Olympic Games. It doesn't get much better than that,” he said.
“There's been some ups and downs. I've also been very happy about my Commonwealth Games performance.
Jarvis won gold at the Commonwealth Games in 2014 and silver in both 2010 and 2018. In the Pan Am Games, he won bronze last year and silver in the Toronto Games in 2015.
“There are a ton of tournaments and a ton of experiences that I've had that I could talk about all day,” he said. “That was one of the biggest ones that I was able to wrestle and have my family and friends be there, kind of like have a little entourage. That doesn't happen very often in this sport because you don't see those big competitions around Canada very often so it was nice to kind of showcase our Canada wrestling team and we took home a bunch of medals. It was a great event.”
He was also a regular competitor in the Guelph Open and the Canada Cup during the years it was held in town.
“The Guelph Open was always a very competitive tournament for me and the same with the Canada Cup so it was always on my calendar every year to prepare for that,” Jarvis said. “It wasn't just another tournament. It was something where I was going to wrestle in front of my friends and my family and my teammates. It was a great experience to have those times and to represent Guelph and to win some titles at the Guelph Open. I had some great, great rivalries with some people from Brock and from B.C. We had some great matches at those tournaments.”
Jarvis also had the experience of competing in the Pro Wrestling League in India last year. That league consisted of six teams with each having four female and five male wrestlers. Each team was also allowed four imports, two male and two female.
“I was drafted for the Punjab Royals team in India and they had me come over and wrestle in the league as one of the foreigners,” Jarvis said. “It was different. It was fun because it turned it into a bit of a team sport. We had team points and you're kind of sitting in a box with your team and cheering on the other guys. It was a great atmosphere and wrestling in India is humongous. They love it over there.”
While Jarvis has won many medals and trophies in the sport during two decades in competitive wrestling that started in high school in Grade 9 in his hometown of Elliott Lake, few are on display at his home.
“There are a few, not so much my medals, but there are a few keepsakes or knickknacks that are around my house from places I've travelled to for wrestling tournaments,” he said. “They're on display as just kind of part of the decor in the house. It's not so much the medals, but a lot of keepsakes.
“I do have a lot of boxes in storage of a lot of memorabilia and a closet full of Team Canada jackets.”
Now Jarvis is looking forward to helping other wrestlers pursue their goals and win medals and trophies.
“Before it was always me going in and getting grinded down,” he said. “I want to go in and be the partner and not the guy that's getting ready for something. I'm excited to help prepare some guys for upcoming competitions and to be a part of their journey.
“That's definitely my plan. If someone needs a training partner, even if I need to go out to a different club because there's a guy getting ready for something, I'd definitely be happy to help some people out and be a training partner.”