Other Sport

Wrestling stunned by IOC snub

2013-02-12 19:21
Wrestling ring (File)
Lausanne - Wrestling officials called Tuesday's decision to drop the sport from the Olympic programme an "aberration" against a founding event.

Known by its French initials FILA, the sport's governing body said it was "greatly astonished" by the IOC executive board decision.

Past and present Olympic champions in Greco-Roman and freestyle wrestling called the rejection a tragedy for the sport.

"FILA will take all necessary measures to convince the IOC Executive Board and IOC members of the aberration of such decision against one of the founding sports of the ancient and modern Olympic Games," said FILA, which is based near the Olympic home city of Lausanne.

A last chance at a remarkable reprieve to maintain wrestling's Olympic status from 2020 onward will come at a meeting in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in September.

Still, FILA President Raphael Martinetti faces criticism much sooner when his ruling body meets this weekend in Phuket, Thailand.

Russian wrestling federation leader Mikhail Mamiashvili, who is a board member, said FILA was part of the problem.

"I believe that Martinetti's task was to work hard, socialize and defend wrestling's place before the IOC," Mamiashvili said in comments reported by the Itar-TASS news agency.

German federation official Jannis Zamanduridis said "a piece of the Olympic idea is dying with this decision."

Wrestling featured on the inaugural modern Olympic programme in Athens in 1896, and counts 180 member countries.

The sport also appeared to meet the IOC's modern requirement of "universality" - with global appeal and competitive balance across the world.

With a total of 18 events for men and women at the London Games, 29 different countries won medals. Golds were won by athletes from Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan, while India, Mongolia and North Korea also featured in the medals table.

Puerto Rico took home only two medals across 26 sports in London, including silver for wrestler Jaime Espinal in the men's 84kg class.

"That was a great story," former IOC executive board member Richard Carrion told The Associated Press. "I'm very sad (today) in the sense that that athlete, and that particular club, were from a very poor neighbourhood.

"They didn't even have a regulation-size mat and produced three wrestlers that qualified for the Olympic Games. Let's see what happens in Buenos Aires."

Russian gold medallist Natalya Vorobyeva, who won the women's 72kg freestyle class, told Itar-TASS that dropping wrestling "will be a tragedy for many people."

"I think everything will be all right. Wrestlers will fight for their place (at the games) till the end," she said.

Former Olympic champion Cael Sanderson insisted his sport's appearance on the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games program would not be its last.

"It might just awaken a sleeping giant here," the 2004 Athens Olympic champion in 84kg freestyle told the AP. "It's sickening, really. It makes me sick to think about it."

Read more on:    olympics 2020  |  wrestling
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