Wrestling may soon lose some validity at a high level, and those involved in the sport locally recognize that there may be a trickledown effect. The Executive Board of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), on February 12, agreed on the 25 sports it will propose to the 125th IOC session for approval as the core sports for the 2020 Summer Olympic Games — and recommended that wrestling not be included, joining seven shortlisted sports.
Wrestling joins baseball/softball, karate, roller sports, sport climbing, squash, wakeboarding, and wushu (a sport derived from Chinese martial arts), as sports now vying for inclusion in the 2020 Olympic program as an additional sport.
“In an effort to ensure the Olympic Games remain relevant to sports fans of all generations, the Olympic Programme Commission systematically reviews every sport following each edition of the Games,” according to a statement from the IOC.
“It’s one of the truest sports in terms of one on one competition … and I think it would be a really big shame if they get rid of it,” Newtown High Coach Dan McIlrath said. “If it fades at higher levels, it’s going to fade at the lower levels.”
Representatives of the eight sports are scheduled to make presentations to the Executive Board at its meeting in St Petersburg, Russia, in May. Only one of the sports will be selected for inclusion.
NHS assistant coach Chris Symes points out that wrestling has been a part of the Olympic Games for more than a century — since 1896 — and that it would be a shame to no longer have it.
Cory Fisher, a former Newtown High grappler who helps coach the current Nighthawks, notes that because true competitive wrestling is not offered at the professional level, high school and collegiate wrestlers will lose a dream to compete once they are through with school. “Unfortunately, with that taken away they have nothing to work for — in a sense,” Fisher said.