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Alexander Karelin and FILA ask wrestlers not to give up their Olympic medals in protest
Alexander Karelin, 6 March 2013, Moscow
To all National Federations and Bureau members
We are, wrestlers – continuators of glorious traditions of the most popular sport – Greco-Roman wrestling.
The finals in different age groups at any youth tournaments or National championships in Russia gather about 400 athletes and arouse sincere interest of several thousand fans. However, the number of athletes participating in such competitions, which by the way are qualifications for finals, exceed 4-5 times that amount. And all of these are active, goal-oriented, hard-working and healthy young people. They enter wrestling gymnasium with a big pile of expectations, on top of which is to become a participant of the Olympic Games. And for these young men, nobody has a right to deprive the opportunity to join one of the greatest achievements of world civilization, deprive their dreams to win the most prestigious competitions in the world of big sport.
Therefore, for the sake of continuation of the Olympic history of wrestling we should not deepen misunderstanding, we should not absorb unconstructive signs of protest, and we should not confuse the society with “bright” denial of Olympic medals and we must remember that “gold” was earned through sweat and blood and in a fair fight. With patience and insistence that should be true wrestlers, we need to conduct a dialogue with the International Olympic Committee, and demonstrate strong arguments, keeping in mind that we are representing vast group of wrestlers, a powerful army of fans and wrestling lovers.
It’s only a dialogue where in a conversation of two sides we can reach common sense. Patience, mutual respect and urge for understanding will let all of us find a way out from this current situation and the history of Olympic wrestling will receive well-deserved continuation.
Also released by FILA is a statement from Karelin, FILA Vice President Stan Dziedzic and FILA Bureau member Daulet Turlykhanov, all who lead the FILA Athletes Commission.
TO WRESTLING’S OLYMPIC CHAMPIONS
As FILA’s Athletes Commission leaders on behalf of FILA, we would like to request each of you to redirect your passions. We appreciate your tenacity and understand that complacency is not in your DNA. Nonetheless, returning your Gold medal is counterproductive. Before the practice escalates, we urge you to keep your Olympic medals and celebrate your achievement. The Gold medals you have so justly earned should be one of your proudest accomplishments. It is a dream that we hope other wrestlers from around the world will continue to have.
Wrestling needs your help in spreading the message of the unique benefits wrestling provides to its participants. In the world of sports, international wrestling ist he most egalitarian and democratic : no refined fields, courts, courses, or specialized equipment are needed. Wrestling does not require rackets, apparatus, balls or even gloves, just a twelve-meter mat and three judges. Two equal-sized wrestlers – armed with nothing more that their individual physical abilities, wit, arsenal of techniques, and most importantly, their will to win – step onto the mat to determine who the best is. International wrestling is designed to be a massive meritocracy.
Mutual respect among wrestlers transcends nationalism, religion, ethnicity, and even government ideology. Wrestling’s competitive internationalism makes the world seem smaller and often trumps sectarian. Our sport is one of the most diverse. There are no ethnic, religious or socio-economic barriers to participation.
Wrestling is among the most diverse Olympic sports. Wrestlers from 29 different countries won medals in London. We cannot afford to dwell on the past, rather we need to press our case why wrestling deserves a spot in the Olympic program.
- Stan Dziedzic, FILA Vice-President, Chairman Athletes Commission
- Daulet Turlykhanov, FILA Bureau member, Co-Chairman Athletes Commission
- Alexander Karelin, Co-opted FILA member, Co-Chairman Athletes Commission