Nikita Chicoine got hooked on wrestling after watching her brother, Isaac, compete and now she's a three-time Eastern Canadian champ.

Chicoine cool about her mat feats: "It's
not that hard to win," 16- year-old says

ARPON BASU. The Gazette. January 5, 2005

Nikita Chicoine has won so often since becoming a wrestler six years ago, she's even become an expert at downplaying her own dominance.

As a 10-year-old sixth-grader, Chicoine would watch her older brother, Isaac, compete in wrestling tournaments, to the point she became hooked on the sport.

Since then, Chicoine is a perfect 6-for-6 at the provincial championships, but the Granby native doesn't think much of the impressive feat.

"It's not that hard to win," the 16-year-old said, "because there's so few of us (female wrestlers)."

Obviously, modesty is a trait Chicoine has in spades, but it would be nearly impossible for her to downplay her accomplishments on the national and international stages.

In her four years of bantam-age competition, Chicoine won the Eastern Canada championship three times, with the one third-place finish coming in her first year of wrestling.

Since entering the cadet age group last year, Chicoine has won the national title in the 56-kg weight class twice in a row.

This past summer, she was also named the national tournament's outstanding cadet wrestler among 113 entries across all weight classes after steamrolling her way to the championship. But again, Chicoine didn't overinflate the value of the award.

"I don't need that recognition for me to know I had a good competition," she said. "I feel you learn something in every bout."

Last summer, after her national title, Chicoine went to the Pan- Am championships in Venezuela and won there as well, though she is quick to point out the United States and Cuba weren't present.

"The big ones weren't there," she said, "but it was still a great experience."

Most recently, Chicoine went to Europe to compete in the German Grand Prix and came away with a fifth-place showing.

Chicoine's commitment to her sport is clearly evident in her hectic schedule. She trains three times a week at her local club, Les Patriotes, in St. Cesaire.

She commutes to Montreal with her mother at least twice a week to train at the Montreal Wrestling Club, where she feeds off former world champion and Olympic silver medalist Gia Sissaouri and national senior champion Martine Dugrenier.

On top of that, she does weight training on her own and still manages to maintain an honour- roll average in school.

Otherwise, she sleeps and eats.

"I don't do a whole lot else," she said with a laugh. "Once in a while I go to the movies, but my priority is my sport. I don't feel I'm missing a lot, I'm happy doing what I do. If you want to perform, that's what you have to do."