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Eliminating Olympic Wrestling Could Impact College Teams

Coaches say the decision could keep younger athletes from joining the sport, but a former gold medalist explains the decision was a long time coming.

College coaches say the downward trend wrestling is taking could discourage younger athletes because the sport does not have a professional wrestling organization, and, therefore, no where to go after graduation.

The International Olympic Council’s decided last Tuesday to remove wrestling from the list of Olympic sports. Then, the president of the International Federation of Associated Wrestling Style announced his resignation Saturday, citing the IOC’s decision.

Indiana University Assistant Wrestling Coach Joseph LeBlanc says the elimination of wrestling could have bigger repercussions if hopefuls can no longer strive for an Olympic title.

“I think this would be a really devastating blow to wrestling in general because it would really take away any kind of option after college, there’s nothing else to continue to go on to because there’s no pro-wrestling, real-pro-wrestling, you know,” he says.

While the decision left many stunned, not all were suprised.

“It was predictable that they were going to do something drastic,” says Bloomington resident Shelby Wilson, who won a freestyle wrestling gold medal in the 1960 Olympics in Rome. “I wasn’t thinking that they were gonna do away with it, but maybe somebody that had some sense would come along and those guys would change the rules to give it some action, but they didn’t.”

Wilson says if international rules were altered to open the sport up for more scoring, it could be more exciting play and watch. He also says current scoring rules are comparable to winning two quarters in football and calling that a win for the entire game.

“My initial reaction was that I had predicted it,” he says. “I was in the London this summer and I just couldn’t believe that we had done this to our sport, that the rules committee that had destroyed the sport, basically. They had changed the rules so bad that there wasn’t any action anymore, you could win a match by beating a guy one-to-nothing, and you could shove him off the mat and get a point.”

A final vote on whether to eliminate wrestling from the Olympics is set for September.

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