Community reaction to Olympic wrestling decision

Here is an opinion piece and other comments from community members, former wrestlers and coaches, on the IOC's decision to eliminate wrestling starting with the 2020 Olympics.

Mark Schultz, wrestling coach in Dubuque:

When I first heard that wrestling would no longer be a part of the summer Olympic games after 2016 I honestly did not believe it. I thought to myself, someone has to be playing a prank on the wrestling community. How could the International Olympic Committee honestly destroy one of the world’s oldest sports?

Unfortunately the horrifying news was real.

My first reaction was sheer anger, followed by confusion and then more anger. I do not understand how anyone can honestly believe wrestling should not be an Olympic event. Wrestling is one of the first sports in the Olympics and one of the oldest sports in the world.

For wrestlers there is no professional league after college. The Olympics are the pinnacle that every wrestler strives for. This is not a sport like football, baseball, or basketball, where there are million dollar contracts and sponsorships in your future.

Wrestlers are a very unique breed of athlete, some may even describe us as “weird.” We train countless hours for a 6-7 minute match, and then go back to training for hours on end all for the simple glory of getting our hand raised.

But, the hours spent training are so much more than preparation for a wrestling match, they are preparation for the rest of our lives.

Anyone who has ever wrestled, on any level, understands what it means to be a wrestler. This sport is so much more than the matches we wrestle; it teaches us so much more than wrestling technique. Wrestling teaches children, teenagers, and adults of all ages how to be a better person, how to be responsible, dedicated, disciplined, respectful, hard-working and how to sacrifice.

Wrestling has changed my life (and countless others) in so many ways I could not even begin to list them. I am writing this to ask you all for your support to help us save the sport that we love so much.

Taking wrestling out of the Olympics will not only affect the athletes currently training at the Olympic Training Center, this will affect every single wrestler in the WORLD from the youngest wrestler to the oldest. Please take a few minutes out of your day to sign a petition, or like a Facebook page and help save the sport of wrestling.

Although only about 0.1 percent of wrestlers will ever accomplish their goal of winning an Olympic gold medal, 100 percent of us have dreamed about and chased that dream. Do not let them take that dream away from us.

  • For more information on how to have your voice heard, find me on twitter @DubuqueWrestlin and use the hashtag #SaveOlympicWrestling

Darin Williams, former Lisbon wrestler 

Wrestling is one of the few, if not the only sport where the Olympics is still the ultimate goal. There are no professional salaries for these athletes to aspire to, and relatively few professional coaching opportunities.

Wrestling was represented by 71 countries at the 2012 games, many of which celebrate wrestling as their national sport.

With the outrage expressed in the United States, it probably pales in comparison to what is happening in Iran, Russia, and all the former Soviet Union nations. Simply a travesty.

Todd Sabin, via Facebook

I feel sorry for the 15-16 year old kids who are working towards that goal right now. 2020 is too soon. Wrestling in the Olympics is a lifetime commitment. You don't wake up one day and say "gee, I was a pretty good high school wrestler and did OK in college, now I'll try out for the Olympics."

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