Wrestling wins fight back into Olympics

Alyssa Kroeker is very relieved wrestling has been re-instated by the International Olympic Committee.

LOCAL WRESTLERS such as Mason Poon

LOCAL WRESTLERS such as Mason Poon

Alyssa Kroeker is very relieved wrestling has been re-instated by the International Olympic Committee.

She was told by her father, Rob Kroeker, who coaches the Okanagan Similkameen Wrestling Club, and a couple teachers about Sunday’s announcement.

“This is my dream to go to the Olympics,” said Alyssa, who is also pursuing an athletic scholarship and has competed provincially and represented B.C. in nationals.

When news broke Feb. 12, 2013 that wrestling wasn’t going to be considered one of the core sports by the IOC, the impact was felt in Penticton.

Tony Ramsay, coach of the Penticton Wrestling Club, which has students mainly from Pen High Secondary and other local schools, said it was sort of shocking. Rob initially felt it was a big mistake. He said it wasn’t a really well thought out decision.

Wrestling Canada announced that the decision was reversed during a ratification vote by the IOC. The Wrestling Canada Lutte website reported that wrestling received 49 votes, with second place going to baseball/softball with 24 votes, squash with 22 votes. Forty-eight was the majority of votes needed for wrestling to re-enter the program.

Ramsay said it’s wonderful news about the re-instatement.

“The wrestling community is very excited that it’s back in,” said Ramsay. “Definitely the fact that it’s still part of the Olympics, it gives kids a goal to shoot towards.”

Rob said he’s relieved by the decision.

“We’re excited that it’s in for sure,” said Rob. “People came up to me who knew nothing about wrestling, knew that I was involved, their comment to me was, you know what … I just know it shouldn’t be kicked out of the Olympics because it’s one of the original sports.”

Because of its history in the Olympics, Alyssa wasn’t too concerned about the sports’ fate.

The Wrestling Canada website states that along with being one of the sports of the ancient Olympiad in 708 B.C., wrestling was one of the main attractions for the first modern Olympics of 1896. Wrestling has remained a main event since since 1904. Those involved in the sport have made adaptations over the decades. Greco-roman was the original Olympic discipline, but wrestling added freestyle in 1904 in order to gain traction in developing countries. In 2004, in response to the sport’s growing popularity among women, FILA announced the addition of women’s freestyle. Wrestling now has 177 federations on six continents and in 2012 a record-setting 71 countries qualified for the Olympic Games. Twenty-nine countries earned medals, including Canada.

Ramsay said when the decision was made to drop wrestling from the Olympics, it just didn’t make sense.

“It’s a good decision to bring it back,” said Ramsay. “It’s one of those pure sports that many countries participate in. It doesn’t require a ton of money to be involved with the sport.”

“We are ecstatic that the IOC Members have voted to keep wrestling in the Olympic programme in Buenos Aires in Argentina,” said  president of Wrestling Canada Don Ryan. “We as a community have worked extremely hard in the last six months to be where we are today.”

Ryan added that the vote of confidence “will continue to fuel the dreams of countless kids across the world, including Canada.”

Wrestling started an intense effort to save its position on the Olympic programme and joined with seven other sports to have a chance to become an “additional sport” on the Olympic Programme for 2020 and 2024.