When the International Olympic Committee voted by secret ballot to eliminate wrestling from the Olympic games in 2020 I was shocked. No, actually horrified. They would keep the modern pentathlon instead of wrestling? Wrestling is as old as the Ancient Olympics themselves (thankfully we wear clothes now), and was a core sport ever since the modern Olympics began. More countries (71 in 2012) compete in wrestling than in the modern pentathlon (26 countries in 2012) so this decision doesn’t make sense. The IOC has said they need to make room for a new sport, but why do we need to bring on a new sport, and what would that be? This is an insane decision.
Being from Iowa I can even begin to tell you how important this sport is. As an Iowa Hawkeye fan I’m proud of our wrestling team’s legendary status. Iowa State and the University of Northern Iowa have also performed well in the NCAA tournaments as a team and with individual wrestlers. Many Iowans have been a part of past Olympic wrestling teams. So I admit, I’m biased. I was a varsity wrestler in high school and even wrestled in a couple open tournaments in college. I love the sport. It is a great sport and one that highlights strength, balance, speed and stamina.
It has also been internationally competitive. The United States have been a dominant force with freestyle wrestling, but there are a number of excellent national teams. Russia has a proud wrestling tradition. I remember as a kid watching the United States and the former Soviet Union do battle on the mat. So does Iran. Actually keeping wrestling as an Olympic sport may be one of the few things you can get the United States, Russia and Iran to agree on! There are numerous medal winners from a plethora of countries. A country does not need to be wealthy in order to compete in this sport. With Greco-Roman wrestling it is even more competitive. It simply has been a great Olympic tradition.
Iowa Governor Terry Branstad has spearheaded an effort called Let’s Keep Wrestling and has partnered with wrestling legend Dan Gable. Gable is the record holder for most NCAA championships as a head coach at the University of Iowa with 16 titles. He is a three-time NCAA champion wrestling at Iowa State University where he only lost one match in his entire college career. When he won the gold medal in the 1972 Olympics he did not surrender a single point which is something, to my knowledge, hasn’t been done since.
He is a warrior on the mat and when he coached, and now he said he’s engaged in the battle to keep wrestling as an Olympic sport.
Before they held their official launch of Let’s Keep Wrestling they already had over 2000 signatures on their petition. Yesterday they held a press conference and it now getting national attention(watch the video below):
Governor Branstad was joined at the press conference held at the Iowa State Wrestling Tournament by Gable, Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds, current Iowa Hawkeyes head coach (and former high school and college standout) Terry Brands, University of Northern Iowa head coach Doug Schwab, and three-time All-American wrestler at Iowa State University Travis Paulsen to announce Let’s Keep Wrestling.
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