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TheMat.com moving to USOC website platform with new look and functionality

This week, TheMat.com will move to the USOC platform, with a new look, new functionality, but with the same favorite features....

Terry Shockley named Chairman of the Board of Governors of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame

Shockley will succeed long-time chairman Jim Keen. Sr. as Chairman of the Board....

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NCAA announces finalist cities for its championships for 2014-18, including wrestling at all levels

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The wait is over; let the wrestling begin!!



All of the preparation and anticipation for the 2000 Olympic Games wrestling competition is over. The day has come. Let the wrestling begin. Judo completed its seven-day run in Halls 1 and 2 in the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre in Darling Harbour on September 22. Within a day, the wrestling staff for SOCOG worked around the clock to turn the judo venue into a spectacular wrestling gym. The three mats are down, the score clocks are in place, the field of play is organized according to plan. The gym is full of Americans, some affiliated with the U.S. team, some working as volunteers or leaders within the local organizers, some working as journalists, some just fans who snuck a view of the venue. The first weigh-in of the competition has been held, with four weight classes in Greco-Roman weighed in and paired off. Steven Mays, Kevin Bracken, Matt Lindland and Garrett Lowney all made weight and are ready to rock. According to the coaches, all of the athletes made weight promptly and without a problem. Now they must get ready for the performances of their life. Each day, the plan is for me to write about the wrestling aspects of the day. We will have other TheMat.com people handling perspectives of the experience here. My focus will be on the competition at hand. The draw is so important with the FILA pairing system. So much depends upon who lands in your pool. Only pool winners can contend for a medal, so you must dominate on the first day of action. At 54 kg, Steven Mays has a reasonable draw. This is his second World-level event, after competing at last year's World Championships. He drew into a pool of four, which is a disadvantage because you need to win three times (the only good thing is that if you do win, you become a semifinalist). Mays will have his toughest time with Olympic bronze medalist Kalashnikov of Ukraine, but will also be tested by Kalilov of Kyrgyzstan and Abou Elela of Egypt. The key for Steven is a good first match. If he wins and gets his throws going, he could have a good day. At 63 kg, Bracken's draw is very positive. He just needs two wins to move on, with the toughest test coming right away from Choi of Korea. Kevin should be able to handle the other opponent, Magni of Italy. Korea is always tough at the Olympics, but the U.S. has beaten Koreans in big events before. Lindland has a four-man pool at 76 kg, and will face some quality athletes but no "superstars." Two of his opponents are from former Soviet republics, Erofaylov of Uzbekistan and Melalashvili of Georgia. His other opponent is little known Slila of Algeria. Matt will need a good first match, using his experience and motivation as a big factor. His problem has been tough draws at major events, and this one is managable. Young Garrett Lowney at 97 kg has the most daunting task. He's in a three-man draw, with two studs. His first opponent is a World silver medalist, Svek of the Czech Republic. Once Garrett tests him, the next opponent is the favorite at the weight, five-time World champion Koguouachvili of Russia. Koguouachvili has never won an Olympic gold, so we should expect him to be motivated. The good thing for Lowney is that these people don't know him very well, and Garrett is so talented and improving rapidly. The question is just how much he has gotten better. We will know in a few hours. Winning medals under the new bracketing format is very, very difficult. There is no room for error. In Greco-Roman, the United States is still battling to be a regular challenger. If a few of these U.S. athletes break through and win their pools tomorrow, they will get the team off to a good start. As coach Chandler said, the team will have to win a few upsets. These are the Olympics, and upsets can occur here. If there is a time to pull an upset, there's no time like the present…
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