IOC decides to eliminate wrestling in 2020
Feb 12, 2013 (The Porterville Recorder - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Say it ain't so, International Olympic Committee, say it ain't so.
In a stunning move on Tuesday, the IOC decided to eliminate wrestling as an Olympic sport. While there's already a ground swell movement to save wrestling as an Olympic sport, if the IOC's decision stands, for the first time in modern history, wrestling will not be a part of the Olympics, beginning in 2020. So 2016 is scheduled to be the last time wrestling will be a part of the Olympics.
Wrestling has been a part of every modern Summer Olympic Games since their inception in 1896. And wrestling has been an Olympic sport going back to the days of ancient Greece. Or as Porterville High wrestling coach Tim Vanni said, "it's man's oldest and toughest sport."
The decision to eliminate wrestling obviously hits close to home to Vanni, who is a two-time Olympian, competing in wrestling in the 1988 and 1992 Olympics. "I'm shocked," Vanni said. "Extremely disappointed. It's pretty devastating."
The IOC has been looking at what sports to add and what sports to eliminate since 1996 when it felt the Summer Games were becoming to big to manage. "It used to be come one, come all," Vanni said.
The IOC looks at 39 criteria when deciding what sports to eliminate and to add, including television ratings, ticket sales, anti-doping policy, global participation and popularity.
There's no question wrestling meets one of the criteria as its participation is worldwide. "It's definitely a global sport," Vanni said.
But there's also no question wrestling isn't a high priority when it comes to television coverage. But there's also no question there are other sports that receive less attention that could have been eliminated by the IOC.
And wrestling provided one of the most memorable moments in Olympic history when American Rulon Gardner upset Alexander Karelin to win the gold medal in Greco-Roman wrestling in the 2000 Olympics. The win is considered one of the greatest upsets in Olympic history right up there with the U.S. Hockey Team's win over the Soviet Union in the 1980 Winter Olympics.
And those who support wrestling aren't going to give up wrestling as an Olympic sport without a fight. Vanni quoted Penn State wrestling coach Cael Sanderson when Sanderson said about the elimination of wrestling as an Olympic sport, "not in my lifetime."
But there are many high school wrestlers out there who stand to lose their Olympic dream with the elimination of the sport in 2020. Two of them are local wrestlers, Porterville's Mason Pengilly and Monache's Matt Gamble. When asked if Pengilly and Gamble could be wrestlers who pursue an Olympic dream in 2020, Vanni said, "absolutely."
There are already numerous efforts to save wrestling as an Olympic sport, including www.change.org/petitions/the-international-olympic-committee-save-wrestling-as-an-olympic-sport in which those who support wrestling can go to sign a petition to save wrestling as an Olympic sport.
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