Order was restored.
Common sense prevailed.
The wrestling community did its job and the International Olympic Committee took notice as it was announced on Sunday that the oldest sport will continue to be part of the Olympic Games for at least the next decade.
Wrestling won 49 votes, compared with 24 for baseball/softball and 22 for squash in voting by delegates of the Olympic committee. The vote guaranteed that freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling would be contested at the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo and the 2024 Olympics, which have yet to be awarded.
“It’s a great, great day for wrestling,” Desert Vista coach David Gonzalez said.
The ancient sport was put on the possible chopping block because leadership became complacent and the scoring can be hard to follow for those not familiar, making it hard to put it on during prime hours of a broadcast.
The sport made some changes and the community worldwide did just about everything it could — petitions, emails, social media floods — to make sure the cause had a voice.
Starting with the 2016 Rio Olympics there will be six weight classes for men and women in freestyle (compared to eight for men and four for women, previously) and six in Greco-Roman for wrestling for the men with the possibility of adding women Greco in the years ahead.
The rules were also changed to make matches more dynamic. For instance, matches will consist of two three-minute rounds now instead of three two-minute rounds.
It adds up to a great day for the wrestling community after a wake-up call and plenty of hard work.
“Being an Olympic champion is considered the apex in the sport of wrestling,” Mesa assistant coach Dave DiDomenico said. “Wrestlers in Arizona who dream of emulating Henry Cejudo can still strive to do that.
“Other sports have their own venue — the Super Bowl, World Cup, World Series — but the Olympics are ours and now we can continue to showcase how great of a sport it is.”
Locally, it will be incredibly hard to achieve what Cejudo, a gold medalist in 2008, did but at least the dream is still alive for Arizona wrestlers like Dalton Brady, Ted Rico, Alex Bambic, Robbie Mathers and many others.
“As a high school coach I think it allows me to continue to sell the other styles to the kids in order to make them better well-rounded wrestlers,” Gonzalez said. “For Arizona and USA wrestling we get to continue to sell the Olympic dream to young wrestlers but our goal, along with USA wrestling, is to work towards re-establishing wrestling as a core sport, not a provisional.”
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