Focused changes propelling Olympic hopeful Victoria Anthony towards Rio

By Joe Mehling, USA Wrestling | Feb. 26, 2016, 1:07 p.m. (ET)

From a young age, women’s freestyle star Victoria Anthony has shown that she has what it takes to, not only be on an Olympic Team, but come home with the Gold medal.

Anthony is a two-time Junior World Champion and won the WCWA National Championship four times while attending Simon Fraser University in Canada.

“Wrestling on such a big stage at a young level helps prepare you for what’s to come,” Anthony said. “I learned what a major competition is like and what international competition is like at a young age. I learned what it takes to be on that stage.”

Anthony has broken through numerous times on the senior international stage as well, including making the 2013 World Team. This year, Anthony has already notched two victories at the Dave Schultz Memorial and the Klippan Lady Open. She credits a few changes on the mat and one life altering experience off the mat for her recent success.

“My boyfriend just had a near death experience in a ski crash that put him in a two-and-half week coma,” Anthony said. “That really pushed me. I realized that the obstacles that I think I face aren’t really obstacles at all. He fell down a mountain. He will fine but he probably should have died. I see him fight through this coma everyday and I know that I can fight through my matches. It allowed me to wrestle more free because I wasn’t worried, it was just wrestling. I have made a few changes I needed to make in order to be myself. I moved to Arizona and I am being coached by Angel Cejudo. I have a ton of training partners at my weight class at our gym Fight Ready MMA, which I have never really had before. I am just figuring out what is best for me and I am committed to it. Going into trials I want to be fearless.”

Fear is not something U.S. Head Coach Terry Steiner is worried about when it comes to Anthony. He knows the potential that the Hunting Beach, Calif. native brings to the table but sometimes her high octane energy can get in the way of her success.

 “She goes a million miles a minute,” Steiner said. “I told her she had to learn that about herself. She can’t just go out there on a whim. She has to have a plan and I think she has done a great job of that. It’s all about focus for her. We just need to bottle it up and help her contain it. She is an unbelievable athlete and is a pleasure to work with. She doesn’t have an ego and is always listening and learning. We just need to have her put moments together inside a match and then string those matches together in a tournament. She can’t have those lapses.”

Anthony will have a plan in place come April for the Olympic Trials as she faces off against some of the best female wrestlers the United States has to offer in 2012 Olympic Bronze medalist Clarissa Chun and two-time World Bronze medalist Alyssa Lampe.

Anthony has battled Chun and Lampe on a consistent basis in recent years. She beat Chun in the finals of the Dave Shultz Memorial the past two years and defeated Lampe at the U.S. Open back in May. However, Lampe was able to shine brightest on the big stage at the World Team Trials in June, defeating Anthony in the finals, best two-out-of-three, 9-2 and 10-4.

“Vicki has been knocking on that door,” Steiner said. “She has been able to beat Clarissa pretty consistently but still battles with Alyssa back-and-forth. Alyssa has won at the right times when it comes to World Teams but Vicki is incredibly capable of taking that next step. As a national coach this is exactly what I want. You need that competition within a weight class. With that competition, the wrestlers will drive each other up. It is a perfect situation, as a coach because they know if they aren’t doing their job then someone else will do it. It keeps them all on target. They know someone is breathing down their necks. They could all wrestle 10 times on 10 different days and the outcome would change all the time.”

Anthony knows that the climb to Rio will not be easy but she believes her battles with Lampe and Chun have only made her more hungry and confident in her abilities.

“I am proud to be a part of this weight class,” Anthony said. “ It allows me to compete and wrestle the best wrestlers in the world. Alyssa and Clarissa have both shown they can win on the world’s biggest stage. I know that if I can beat them then I can beat anyone else in the world. They force me to sharpen my skills. I have beaten them and they have beaten me so each competition forces me to get better. I can’t stay stagnant.”

Stagnant would be the last word used to describe Anthony, on and off the mat. She is known for her quickness in her matches and the incredible energy she brings to the room and her teammates.

“She is a great person to be around,” Steiner said. “She just brings a certain energy. You can tell within the first five minutes of being around her that she is just full of life. She won’t be one of those people that sits down and lets life go by. She is going to get in as much as possible. She brings a light with her to the room that lifts people.” 

Anthony is not even stagnant when it comes to weight classes. In order to compete at the 2013 World Championships, Anthony moved up to the 51kg weight class despite already being a little undersized at 48kg.. She used her explosiveness to push her to a fifth place finish including a win over 2013 European Champion Roxana Zasina of Poland. Anthony was just one point away from a tech-fall victory in the semi-finals but was caught off guard and pinned.

“I knew with her speed and quickness, if she got her offense going, she could be very successful in that tournament,” Steiner said. “She was just on her game. She shut her opponents down and got her own offense going again. It was a great showing at an upper weight class.”

Anthony has had her fair share of success at all levels in the sport of wrestling but the big stage still hasn’t seen the best of her. The potential and the talent is there without a doubt, now it is about bringing it all together for one magical run to Olympic Gold.

“She knows she is capable,” Steiner said. “She knows that she is in that group of elite athletes. Some of her best friends are Helen Maroulis and Adeline Gray, who are world champs. She doesn’t want to be the one without anything. That’s been hard on her. Watching them achieve what they have and then sitting there without a world medal. It is very motivating.”

Motivation won’t be an issue for Anthony. She is well aware of the road ahead and is excited for her opportunity to join the club of elite wrestlers in the United States.

“I am so stoked,” Anthony said. “I understood what the Olympic Games when I was six years old. I love how everything is coming together. I cannot wait to win Olympic Gold.”