Flin Flon's Hunter Lee is heading home with a bronze medal from the Pan Am Games.
The wrestler took home a bronze for Team Canada in the 86-kilogram men's freestyle wrestling event Nov. 2, doing so in the biggest competition of his career to date. The one-day tournament in his weight class took place in Santiago, Chile, where the games have taken place since late last month.
Less than two weeks after being notified he would be wrestling for Canada, Lee arrived in Chile and drew a tough assignment in his first match, facing American wrestler Mark Hall II. Hall II is a former two-time junior world champion and a former Pan-American champion and entered the event as one of the favourites.
Lee took a 12-2 loss against Hall II, ending his chances of winning a gold medal. However, the loss would not end his chances at the podium, thanks to the tournament structure. In that structure, four wrestlers - two who lost in semi-finals and the two wrestlers who lost in quarterfinals to the gold medal competitors would compete for two bronze medals.
That structure meant Lee was back in medal contention, as Hall II won his semifinal against Puerto Rican wrestler Ethan Adrian Ramos, who Hall II beat 7-0. Lee would then wrestle a second match, this time for a medal, against Ramos.
This time, Lee took the upper hand, ending with a 14-4 victory and a bronze medal at one of the world's biggest athletic competitions. Lee stood on the podium along with Venezuelan wrestler Pedro Ceballos, who won the second bronze medal in the other match. Hall II ended up winning silver as Cuban entrant Yurieski Torreblanca won the gold medal match.
The bronze is Lee's first senior-level medal at an international tournament. It'll join a crowded trophy chest in the Lee family home, between the accomplishments of both Hunter and his brother Carson. Hunter has a bronze medal from junior world championships in 2019, two Canadian university gold medals, a Canada West gold medal, a Canada Games gold medal, silver and bronze medals from junior Pan-American championships and many more. The Flin Flonner was a member of the Univ. of Saskatchewan Huskies wrestling team for four years until graduating last year.
Lee took part in last year's United World Wrestling U23 World Championships in Spain. Lee also has a budding career in mixed martial arts, where he has taken part in one amateur and one professional fight, winning both.
For the past year, Lee has been living and training in Vancouver, working on both wrestling and mixed martial arts and holding after-school sports programs for kids. Lee is preparing for a run at Canadian Olympic team trials in December - if he places in that national tournament, he would move on to a pan-American qualifier for a chance to represent Canada at the Olympics in Paris next summer.