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|FILA President Martinetti talks about new rules at World Championships press conference in Budapest,|
By Gary Abbott USA Wrestling
FILA President Raphael Martinetti talked extensively about the new rules of international wrestling during the opening press conference for the World Wrestling Championships, set to begin tomorrow in Budapest, Hungary.
Martinetti was with a number of local dignitaries who helped kick off the tournament, which will run for seven days. It will be the first Senior World Championships that will use the many changes made in the sport that were announced during the Olympic Games in Athens, Greece last summer.
"When I accepted the position of FILA President, I knew I would like to introduce a new era of wrestling. We have worked together with our many colleagues around the world to make it a reality."
Martinetti noted that a major change will be that each weight class will be contested and completed in one day. The tournament begins on Monday morning, with three men's freestyle divisions: 55 kg, 60 kg, and 66 kg.
"You will get the chance to assess the new rules and see if they are acceptable," Martinetti told the press. "We wish to innovate our sport. This is the best sport worldwide. We want to be a spectacular and attractive sport in the future."
He noted that the changes did not come easily, especially within the wrestling community.
"Not every country accepted the rules," said Martinetti. "It took major efforts to conduct these changes. As they are now, every sportsman can achieve something great."
After the press conference, Martinetti told TheMat.com that IOC President Jacques Rogge and a total of four IOC members will attend the competition in Budapest and see the new rules in action.
Martinetti confirmed that the IOC Executive Committee would meet in October, to determine the number of competitors and weight classes for wrestling in the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China.
"FILA has requested seven-seven-seven for weight classes, and more athletes for wrestling," said Martinetti. "In my opinion, the IOC has a good disposition for wrestling. I hope they accept the seven-seven-seven, but that is not my decision. If we do not get that for Beijing, I will continue to push it for the next Olympics. I know the IOC wants to promote women's athletics, and that is what we wish to do."
In regards to rule changes, Martinetti was pleased with the adjustments made in both freestyle and Greco-Roman.
"In Greco-Roman, we have gone to one minute on the feet, then 30 seconds in par terre and 30 seconds in par terre. Now you have many actions in Greco-Roman. Now, the freestyle rules are perfect. They are nice rules for the athletes. I have been to 10 tournaments, and everybody enjoys them," said Martinetti.
When asked about the attendance expected, Martinetti was confident. "It will be full, I promise you," said Martinetti, who noted that Hungarian Wrestling Federation president Csaba Hegedus promised him a strong turnout of fans.
Hegedus, an Olympic champion who has recently been elected to the FILA International Wrestling Hall of Fame for his contributions to the sport, also addressed the media on behalf of the wrestling federation.
"I am almost 60 years old, and I have been working all my life for this sport," said Hegedus. "We offer our friendship, hospitality and know-how to you. We have participants from nearly 100 countries. We will experience the best of wrestling here. It will be in the best tradition of our sport. For 21 times, we will hear the national anthem played for the champions. We will see numerous events that are characteristic of wrestling."
During the press conference, the Hungarian Postal Service displayed a new stamp that has been issued to celebrate the tournament. It displays a wrestling throw, as well as the logo of the World Championships.
In addition, a special cup that will be presented to the champions was displayed. It is sponsored by a Russian company, TVEL, Ltd, which produces heating elements for the nuclear industry. The cup is made of Zirconium, a mineral used in nuclear energy.
"Zirconium is a very tough and hard material," said KK Sokolov of TVEL, Ltd. "If you knock on it, you hear a singing sound. I wish this to be the sound of victory."
The tournament continues with weighins and the draw for the first three weight classes, set for 3:00 p.m. Budapest time.