The Saving of Olympic Wrestling

Tweet after tweet after tweet. It’s the morning of February 12, 2013, and wrestling fans all over the world, sat at their computer frantically refreshing their newsfeed praying the news cant be true. The wrestling community has just found out that wrestling had been dropped from the 2020 Olympic games

Wrestling made its first appearance at the ancient Olympic games in 708 B.C, and along with track and field is considered the world’s oldest competitive sport. Wrestling has also appeared in every modern Olympic games dating all the way back to1896.

The decision to drop wrestling was made by secret ballot by the International Olympic Committee’s fifteen member executive board at its headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland. The board voted after reviewing a report by the IOC program commission that analyzed 39 criteria, including TV ratings, ticket sales, anti-doping policy, global participation, and popularity. That IOC vote was believed to be subject to political, emotional, and sentimental factors.

This would come into question when it was revealed that wrestling was edged to remain on the core sports ballet by modern pentathlon. Voting IOC board member Juan Antonio Samaranch Jr. is also the Union International de Pentathlon Moderne vice president. “I think it shows how corrupt the voting process really is, and something needs to change to make this more fair,” Ohio University head wrestling coach Joel Greenlee said. Greenlee has a great deal of experience with the Olympics as he was a 1992 Olympic alternate.

2012 Olympic Gold Medalist Jordan Burroughs

2012 Olympic Gold Medalist Jordan Burroughs

Within hours of the IOC decision the wrestling world began the fight to save the sport they love. Facebook and Twitter accounts were set up to help spread the message of the cause, online petitions were signed, and t-shirts were made. In May the United States, Russia, and Iran came together for a wrestling match at New York’s Grand Central Station dubbed, “Rumble on the Rails.” “Those three countries are known for not getting along, and wrestling is the only sport in the world that could bring them together for the same cause,” Greenlee said.

On May 29th wrestling beat out four sports to grab a spot as one of the final three sports up for re-inclusion to the 2020 and 2024 Olympic ballets. Wrestling was set for its biggest match ever against: baseball/softball, and squash, with the IOC’s final decision set for September 8th.

It’s the morning of September 8th and the wrestling community once again sat in front of their computers frantically refreshing their twitter feeds this time hoping for better news. The IOC is meeting in Buenos Aires to decide not only wrestling’s fate, but also the fate of dreams around the world. Shortly after 10a.m. wrestling fans all over the world got the news that they had been praying for. Wrestling was back into the Olympics. With the victory over baseball/softball and squash, wrestling is now safely on the 2020 and 2024 Olympic ballets. “It was such a relief to know that it was safely back in,” Greenlee said. But we cant stop here, we have to really focus on growing our sport worldwide now,” Greenlee finished with.


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