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|CPOW Weekly Update for July 24, 2013|
SUMMARY: Wrestling returns to Ancient Olympia, Greece for competition… First wrestling in Olympia since 393 AD, and the first women ever to wrestle in Olympia… U.S. wins eight medals in Olympia, and athletes appreciate the opportunity… FILA expands budget of out-of-competition doping tests... Video of dance by Azerbaijan wrestler goes viral... Dan Gable makes more Keep Olympic Wrestling appearances... Google+ Hangout Online series to feature women wrestlers this week... World's largest wrestling event, ASICS/Vaughan Junior and Cadet Nationals, shows growth... First set of auction items to benefit Keep Olympic Wrestling is completed... Malaysian MMA star comes out for Olympic wrestling...
The Committee for the Preservation of Olympic Wrestling (CPOW) is bringing back its weekly update, informing the wrestling community and the general public on its activities.
CPOW is a group of wrestling leaders assembled by USA Wrestling. Its charge is to oversee the effort within the United States to Keep Wrestling In the Olympics, as part of a coordinated international strategy designed to retain wrestling in the Olympics.
On May 29, the International Olympic Committee Executive Board voted wrestling as one of three sports for the shortlist of candidates for the final provisional sports spot in the 2020 and 2024 Summer Olympic Games during its meeting in St. Petersburg, Russia. The final decision will be made on September 8 at the IOC General Assembly in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
International Relations News and Effort
• Wrestlers from around the world came together at the birthplace of the Olympic Movement – Olympia, Greece –for a Senior International Tournament, July 20-21. The event was webcast to the world live on the FILA Facebook page. The Greek government and sports leaders opened up this sacred location to the sport of wrestling as part of its support to Keep Olympic Wrestling. "We are determined to offer every possible form of support to keep wrestling in Olympic competition. It's an obligation we have both to modern Olympic history ... and in our roles as guardians of the heritage and spirit of the ancient games. Wrestling is a connection between the two,” said Yiannis Andrianos, a deputy minister for sport in Greece.
• Prior to the finals of the event, youth wrestlers competed on the grounds of the Palaestra in Ancient Olympia, Greece, making history as the first wrestlers to compete in the area since the end of the Ancient Olympic Games era in 393 AD. Also of historic note, the two female youth athletes that took part in the exhibition were the first ever female athletes to wrestle in Ancient Olympia. FILA President, Nenad Lalovic, who was in Greece said, "It is important for young wrestlers to know the rich history of the sport; that wrestling was one of the original Olympic sports from ancient times; and that this was its birthplace. I am proud, as the President of FILA, that we were able to make this incredible moment happen."
• USA Wrestling sent a team of men and women wrestlers to the event in Greece, as a sign of support for the organizers and for the Keep Olympic Wrestling movement. Winning gold medals for Team USA were Greco-Roman wrestlers Ellis Coleman at 66 kg and Geordan Speiller at 74 kg, and women’s freestyle wrestler Alyssa Lampe at 48 kg. Silver medalists for the USA included women’s freestyle wrestlers Helen Maroulis at 55 kg, Elena Pirozhkova at 63 kg and Tamyra Mensah at 67 kg along with Greco-Roman wrestler Max Nowry at 55 kg. Nowry also competed in freestyle, where he won a bronze medal. There were more than 100 athletes from 12 nations in the event, including Russia, Brazil, Great Britain and others.
• The U.S. wrestlers were very excited to compete in Ancient Olympia and to witness the historical importance of their sport to the Olympic movement. “It has been awesome to come to such a historical site where the Olympics originated, and to envision how competitions happened then,” said 2012 Olympian Ellis Coleman. “Being among the first women to wrestle on this ancient Olympic ground is incredible. It am so thankful for that. It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said World medalist Helen Maroulis, a Greek-American.
• Inside the Games reporter David Owen, who was among the many international journalists on hand to witness the wrestling in Ancient Olympia, reported that FILA president Nenad Lalovic has authorized a sharp increase in the budget for out-of-competition anti-doping tests. “I raised the budget for out of competition tests by five times. It is now $131,000,” said Lalovic. In the interview, Lalovic noted that doping in wrestling is “a very moderate problem”, but explained that FILA and the international wrestling community “would like it to be even smaller.” In regards to the upcoming IOC vote in September about the 2020 Olympic Games program, Lalovic said that the long-term aim was to “get back as a core sport.” He also spoke about the many changes in wrestling in recent months and the direction of wrestling in the future. “Everything is open. This is not the Bible we wrote. We are ready to change as often as needed to have in a few years a very spectacular sport,” said Lalovic.
• A video of a dance by Azerbaijan wrestler after his victory at the recent World University Games in Kazan, Russia went viral, and caught the attention and imagination of the entire world. Azerbaijan wrestler Rasul Chunayev defeated Russian past Olympic champion Islambek Albiev for the 66-kg Greco-Roman gold medal and displayed some amazing dance steps in celebration. The video posted on YouTube had over 540,000 views in less than a week, and appeared in media reports worldwide. For some journalists, this celebration dance is one of the reasons wrestling should remain in the Olympic Games. Reporter Ricky Boebel noted the global interest in wrestling and wrote the following: “Every four years, small countries dominate in one Olympic sport because they care about that sport a thousand times more than any other country. It makes a small nation feel like a global superpower for that one day and the IOC shouldn’t take that away from Azerbaijan.”
• Dan Gable, a member of CPOW and a leader in the Keep Olympic Wrestling movement, talked about the effort during a recent autograph session at Scheel's in Sioux City, Iowa. Fans waited up to 30 minutes to meet him and talk some wrestling. Gable also took the time to talk with the media there, and explain the many positive changes in the sport. “Now we’re doing things way better than we’ve ever been doing them. It’s been kind of a kick in the butt for us and it’s got us doing things that we should have been doing before. Realistically, we should be in the Olympic Games. We’re everywhere, in 180 countries. In fact, in many of the countries, their only medals are in wrestling so hopefully we’ll be able to stay in,” said Gable. He also spoke about his very busy travel schedule to make appearances on behalf of Olympic wrestling. “I’m on the move because I’m a guy in wrestling who really needs to be out in public to promote it right now,” said Gable.
• CPOW, in conjunction with USA Wrestling and FILA, continued its series of weekly Google+ On Air Hangouts last Thursday with an appearance by World and Olympic champion Jordan Burroughs and actor and wrestling leader Billy Baldwin. The number of fans who watched and participated in this Hangout was outstanding and is growing since the series began. Wrestling is the first Olympic sport to hold a series of Google+ On Air Hangouts. The next weekly Google+ On Air Hangout is set for Thursday, July 25 at 2 p.m. Eastern, and will feature World champions Elena Pirozhkova of the USA and Jessica MacDonald of Canada, plus World medalist Helen Maroulis and Junior World medalist Alli Ragan, also from the USA. Several more Olympic wrestlers and leaders who will participate in weekly Google+ Hangouts On Air leading up to the International Olympic Committee’s final vote in September. Expected to participate in the weekly hangouts include FILA President Nenad Lalovic, Olympic gold medalist Daniel Igali, Executive Director of USA Wrestling Rich Bender, CPOW chairman Bill Scherr, celebrities and more.
• The largest wrestling tournament in the world, the ASICS/Vaughan Junior and Cadet National Championships was hosted by USA Wrestling in Fargo, N.D, July 13-20 and showed impressive growth. The competition is hosted in the Fargodome, on the campus of North Dakota State University, an indoor football arena in which 23 wrestling mats were used for the competition. In total, for the seven divisions held during the week, there were 4,152 entries, an increase of 182 entries from the previous year. There was an increase in entries in all seven tournaments. One of the reasons cited for the growth were the new rules of international wrestling, which were more popular among the athletes and coaches and displayed an impressive increase in scoring and excitement from the previous rules used for the sport. The event featured teams from USA Wrestling’s state associations, whose leadership also helped the event to grow. There were competitors from 46 different states and from Puerto Rico entered in the event.
• Many of America’s top wrestling heroes made appearances during the week in Fargo, meeting with young wrestlers who are considered Olympic hopefuls of the future. CPOW had hero appearances from two-time women’s Olympian Ali Bernard and Olympic champion Kendall Cross at its Keep Olympic Wrestling booth. Event sponsor ASICS hosted autograph sessions with Olympic champions Bruce Baumgartner, Dan Gable, Tom Brands, Cael Sanderson and Kevin Jackson.
• CPOW and actor Billy Baldwin created an auction on eBay to benefit the Keep Olympic Wrestling movement, and the first wave of celebrity experiences were bid upon and completed this week. Included in this first set of experiences were activities including Randy Couture, Jay Leno, Mario Lopez, Kurt Angle, Mike Golic, Carlos Palomino and a UFC fan experience. Baldwin will have many other items up for bid in the upcoming weeks, with information on them available on TheMat.com and on KeepOlympicWrestling.com.
• The call to Keep Olympic Wrestling continues to come from all corners of the world, and from people who are not directly involved in wrestling. Malaysian MMA competitor Adam Kayoom was recently interviewed by Malaysian Digest, and came out in support of wrestling. “Trying not to save and keep wrestling in the Olympics is absolutely absurd! But then again I think modern Olympics, if continues the way it is, the Olympics don't deserve to hold such a historic sport, a sport that has its roots as old as recorded ancient civilizations. So, yes, I have a lot of respect for wrestling and I like learning it,” he said.
We ask one thing from the wrestling community. Please stay informed and stay involved. You can do this by registering on www.KeepOlympicWrestling.com. We will give you weekly updates on the activities of CPOW and the international wrestling community so you can truly be a part of the solution.