Hope brothers find wrestling success

One wins silver at high school provincials while the other is off to nationals

Karam (left) and Daya Gill have lofty goals for their freestyle wrestling careers and they’re practicing up to six times a week to reach them.

In wrestling competitions, Daya Gill doesn’t ever have to worry about getting matched up against his big brother, Karam. They’re in totally different weight classes, with 13-year-old Daya at 45 kilograms and 15-year-old Karam at 84 kilograms.

The boys do wrestle a bit around the home, too… but they can honestly tell their parents they’re “just practicing.”

Karam has been involved in the sport for a few more years — but it was Daya who upstaged his brother, by coming home with a silver medal from the BC High School Wrestling Championships in Prince George, February 27 to March 1.

No worries for Karam, though… he’s got a case full of medals and trophies already. This was his little brother’s weekend to shine.

“I had four matches,” recalled Daya, who is in Grade 8 at Hope Secondary. “One opponent was the same age as me and the next two were Grade 10s. The final one was a Grade 11.”

Both brothers compete in freestyle wrestling, which starts in a standing stance and allows the use of the legs — as opposed to the Greco-Roman form.

In the gold medal bout against Cam Hicks of Maple Ridge Secondary, Daya was leading 4-2 until late in the match.

“He went for my leg and I fell backwards, on my stomach, and he was lying on top of me and got two points.

“The rule is: if you’re tied, the person who gets the last point wins,” explained Daya. “I had about 30 seconds after that but he just stayed in a defensive mode and the time went out.”

Meanwhile, Karam’s big build put him at a disadvantage at Prince George, said Daya. “He is in Grade 9 but his weight was so high that he got put against Grade 12s and he didn’t medal.

“At the Canadian championships, they go by your age and your weight… so he could medal there,” said Daya, a Hope Standard carrier.

Both boys have dreams of wrestling for Canada at the Olympics — and each year, they progress toward those goals. The Wrestling Canada Cadet and Juvenile Championships, April 4-6 at the University of Guelph, will be a big step for Karam… part of a journey that began a generation earlier.

“Their father had a dream of being a wrestler,” said mom, Sandeep (Sandy). “But circumstances didn’t allow it — so he wanted to have a son who could fulfill his dream.

“As soon as Karam was born, his father said, ‘There’s a wrestler!’”

And then there were two.

These young men are driven in their determination — and they’re driven to practice in Abbotsford, up to six times a week.

Karam was born in Williams Lake and Daya was the last baby born in the Fraser Canyon Hospital’s maternity ward, said Sandy. They soon moved to Abbotsford and have been back in Hope for the last three years.

There is no wrestling program at Hope Secondary, though local teacher Andy Sandhu went along to the provincials as a sponsor. Sandhu’s own sons wrestle for a club in Surrey.

Sandhu quoted Dan Gable, 1972 Olympic gold medalist and hall of fame coach for the University of Iowa: “Once you wrestle, everything else in life is easy.”

“I started wrestling in Abbotsford when I was five and a half years old,” said Karam. “The farm we used to live on had a wrestling club and I started going there and I was the youngest there but I would wrestle older guys just for fun.

“Wrestling isn’t a easy sport, though,” added Karam. “It takes dedication and discipline. Commitment is a big part of wrestling — and no one is born strong. You have to train and get strong.”

The Gills are trained by coach Boota Dhinsa, with help from his son, Sunny, who is a Commonwealth champion and will be joining the WWE in May, said Karam.

Coach Boota and Karam’s dad, Harjit (Harry) will be accompanying Karam on the trip to Guelph. Here’s hoping that Karam’s luggage will be a little heavier on the return flight.


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