Grappling for their future

Ian Jacques/Editor / Staff writer
February 15, 2013 01:00 AM

The Olympic motto reads as follows: "The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win, but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph, but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered, but to have fought well."

It seems members of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) forgot about this motto when they made the curious and somewhat shocking decision this week to eliminate wrestling from the Summer Olympic Games by 2020. The decision still has to be ratified by the full International Olympic Committee in September, meaning there is still a chance the sport could get reinstated, but it doesn't look good.

Wrestling dates back to the ancient Olympics and has been a fixture at the Games since the inaugural modern games in 1896.

It's not really clear why the decision was made, although dropping wrestling to allow another sport, like golf, to enter the competition is the likely answer.

Wrestling now joins baseball/softball, karate, roller sports, sport climbing, squash, wakeboarding and wushu - vying for its existence in the 2020 Olympic program.

Canada has a long-standing tradition in Olympic wrestling. It's been one of our best sports, as Canada has won 14 Olympic medals - its latest two at the recent London Games, and athletes have brought home at least one Olympic wrestling medal from every Summer Games since 1992 in Barcelona.

Canada is not alone in its success on the mat. There are many smaller countries that compete with smaller teams, with wrestling being one of the few sports they have been able to excel in.

At the amateur level, where do athletes who have chosen this sport aspire to? Sure, there are local, provincial and national championships to contend for, but nothing compares to the Olympics, right?

Here on the Sunshine Coast, Clint Fox has built a highly successful program at Elphinstone Secondary School. Many of his athletes have seen success at the provincial and international levels. We have profiled a number of them and their success over the years in our sports pages.

Wrestling is a great sport. It builds character. It's the ultimate individual sport. Those young athletes who have chosen this sport are as passionate as those who play hockey, soccer or basketball. The athletes in high school gyms all over the world, who are now working hard, learning the sport and striving to be better, would be of age to compete in the Olympics in 2020. So where do these athletes go from here? What about their hopes and dreams? Isn't that what the Olympics are all about - hopes and dreams?

This decision by the IOC says to us that they don't care about these athletes' hopes and dreams. Here's hoping the IOC will see the error of their ways and reverse their decision.

Taking wrestling away from the Olympics is like apple pie without ice cream.

It's just not right.

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