First Nations wrestler helps unveil Canadian clothing line for Paris Olympics

Wednesday, April 17th, 2024 2:03pm


Image Caption

During the Athlete Kit reveal in Toronto April 16, Justina Di Stasio models the "opening ceremonies look" for Canadian athletes competing in the Paris Olympics in France this summer.
By Sam Laskaris
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Justina Di Stasio’s lifelong dream is starting to feel more and more like reality.

Di Stasio, a member of Norway House Cree Nation in Manitoba, is a wrestler who will represent Canada at this summer’s Paris Olympics in France.

Di Stasio was in Toronto on April 16 for the Athlete Kit reveal, featuring all of the clothing that Canadian athletes will wear during the Olympics and Paris Paralympics.

The event, staged at The Liberty Grand in Toronto, was hosted by lululemon, which is the official outfitter for athletes representing the Canadian Olympic and Paralympic committees.

Di Stasio, who lives in East Vancouver, was excited to be among the Canadian athletes to model the clothes they’ll be wearing.

“Everything feels more like I’m going to the Olympics,” she said, moments after the kit reveal. “Everything is a different experience. This one was a big one.”

As of April 17, there will be exactly 100 days before the start of the Paris Olympics, which begin on July 26.

“It’s going to be the best 100 days of my life,” Di Stasio said.

The Athlete Kit reveal saw athletes modelling outfits for the opening and closing ceremonies, clothing for meeting the media and for when walking around the athletes’ village.

And for those who are successful and earn some hardware, there’s also special clothing to wear on the podium.

“Everything is so nice,” Di Stasio said of the items. “People were telling me you have to prepare for the question what is your favourite item. And I was like that’s going to be a tough choice.”

Di Stasio walked the runway at the reveal wearing the opening ceremonies look.

“I decided (this is my favourite) because I got to wear this out there,” she said.

Di Stasio was one of 19 Canadian Olympic or Paralympic athletes that took part in the Athlete Kit reveal.

“Being here and sharing this experience with a bunch of other Olympians, these are people I’ve looked up to,” she said. “I’ve followed them on Instagram and seeing them have big moments, just being here with them it’s like ‘Whoa. This is like the real deal.’ I’m here too. So, it’s very cool.”

Justina Di Stasio

Di Stasio will represent Canada in the women’s 76-kilogram category.

“I still can’t believe I’m going to be an Olympian,” she said. “I worked so long and so hard and you have this big goal. But now it’s actually happening. I’m working so hard to be present and enjoy it all because it’s surreal.

“Like dreams come true. You work so hard for them and then it’s actually happening. You don’t want to miss it. So, you want to be so present every day.”

Di Stasio will be busy before she heads to Paris.

Besides training sessions in Canada, she’ll also attend camps in Colorado and Oregon. Plus, she’ll compete in a ranking tournament in Budapest. And then, she might also participate at a tourney in Italy.

“Budapest is the last ranking tournament,” said Di Stasio, who is currently ranked ninth in her weight class in the world rankings. “If that goes well, then I can come home. If we need to fix things up, we need another test-up tournament.”

Though she has qualified to participate in Paris, Di Stasio said ranking tournaments are still important.

“We’re waiting for all 16 girls to qualify for the Olympics (in my category),” she said. “So, you want to be as high as you can get just so you get a better idea of what the draw is going to be. But, realistically, wherever I get ranked, I’m just going to do whatever I have to do that day.”

Di Stasio, who is 31, is a former world champion, winning the gold medal in her 72-kilogram division at the 2018 global meet.

She also won gold medals at the 2022 Commonwealth Games and the 2019 Pan American Games.

Local Journalism Initiative Reporters are supported by a financial contribution made by the Government of Canada.