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CPOW Weekly Update for March 25, 2013



SUMMARY: CPOW press conference at NCAAs featuring Scherr, Jordan, Gable & Burroughs… 2020 Vision Campaign launched… Letter from Congressmen… Gardner and Cejudo on Tonight Show… Olympic rings to Burroughs and Varner… Information booths and video testimonials at NCAAs… Feature during ESPN coverage of NCAAs… Improved website launched… Live simulation by Team USA… Autograph sessions with Olympic champions…. Donation from Scheels in Des Moines… Coalition building at Europeans… FILA planning for IOC meeting in May…

The Committee for the Preservation of Olympic Wrestling (CPOW) will be issuing a weekly update on Mondays, 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.

It was NCAA Wrestling Championships week in the United States, and a vast number of Keep Olympic Wrestling activities were held to reach out to the thousands of wrestling fans who came together in Des Moines, Iowa, as well as the hundreds of major media outlets in attendance.

United States News and Efforts

• A CPOW press conference was held prior to the semifinals of the NCAA Div. I Wrestling Championships in Des Moines, Iowa. Featured guests were CPOW chairman Bill Scherr, Congressman Jim Jordan (R-OH), wrestling legend Dan Gable and 2012 Olympic champion Jordan Burroughs. The interview room at Wells Fargo Arena was packed with TV, print and photo journalists. Included in the media at the press conference in addition to American media was NHK, a major television network from Japan. The press conference was streamed live over the internet, making it available to the press and wrestling fans worldwide.

• Bill Scherr, a World champion and Olympic medalist wrestler, gave an update on the progress of the effort, and provided information and perspective about what to expect in the upcoming months. He explained the great start on the international front. Scherr indicaded that the resignation of former FILA president Raphael Martinetti and the selection of Acting President Nenad Lalovic was the “first and most important impact we have had.” Scherr reported that international wrestling is ready to work within the IOC process to remain on the Olympic program. “Make no mistake about it. We vehemently disagree with the decision of the IOC. But, also make no mistake, the fault lies with the leadership of wrestling and not the process or the individuals of the IOC. We want to be part of that process,” said Scherr.

• Congressman Jordan, a two-time NCAA champion and a top Olympic hopeful in freestyle wrestling before getting into public service, talked about the Congressional resolutions supporting Olympic wrestling. The resolution is sponsored by Dave Loebsack of Iowa, and co-sponsored by Jordan and Tim Walls from Minnesota. “We have strong bi-partisan support for wrestling, talking about the great history it has in this country and around the world. This is one of those issues where party lines aren’t a problem. We are working together to protect the sport and make sure it remains in the Olympic Games,” said Jordan.

• At the press conference, Congressman Jordan also released a letter to IOC President Dr. Jacques Rogge, from seven U.S. Congressmen encouraging the IOC to reconsider its choice and vote to continue wrestling in the Olympic Games. It is signed by Speaker of the House John Boehner, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy and Congressmen Jim Jordan, David Loebsack, Timothy Walz and Steve King.

• Olympic champions Jordan Burroughs and Dan Gable gave their perspective about the effort to Keep Olympic Wrestling. Burroughs, who has been to Iran and Belarus to compete in the last month, talked about how athletes from all nations are bonding behind the sport. “Even though we are opponents on the mat, we established a brotherhood, to try to reverse the decision the IOC has made,” said Burroughs. Gable, who is a legend in Iowa and around the world, talked about why the IOC should reverse its recommendation and keep wrestling as a core sport. “It is the right thing to do. You have to take care of your people. The right thing is to offer people what they deserve,” said Gable.

• CPOW officially launched the 2020 Vision marketing campaign on Friday during the press conference and internationally through a media release. CPOW has created a national marketing and public relations campaign entitled "2020 Vision: Wrestling, Keep The Dream Alive.” The campaign logo features an Olympic style mat which doubles as a target. The 2020 Vision campaign includes many media platforms, including a website, twitter feed and Facebook page, plus banners, print and digital materials, TV/web PSAs and much more. Vision 2020 promotional materials were available at many locations in Des Moines. Stories about 2020 Vision appeared in media outlets across the nation and world.

• As part of the 2020 Vision launch, an improved and expanded website supporting the U.S. effort was launched. The new URL for the website is KeepOlympicWrestling.com, and is an easy-to-use site which allows people to Sign, Share and Donate. All of the news about the effort, as well as ways that wrestling supporters can take action and get involved, will be provided through this website.

• In cooperation with the NCAA, special Olympic champion rings were presented to 2012 Olympic champions Jordan Burroughs and Jake Varner prior to the semifinals at the NCAA Championships, in front of a sold-out Wells Fargo Arena. USA Wrestling President Jim Ravannack and National Freestyle Coach Zeke Jones presented the rings. The capacity crowd loudly chanted “USA, USA” during the presentation, a true endorsement for the effort to Keep Olympic Wrestling.

• On Monday, March 18, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno featured 2000 Olympic Greco-Roman champion Rulon Gardner and 2008 Olympic freestyle champion Henry Cejudo as guests. The wrestling heroes discussed how wrestling has changed their lives, and explained USA Wrestling’s campaign to Keep Wrestling In the Olympics. In an unprecedented sign of support, Leno said, "I invited them here because I'm really mad about this." The Tonight Show also posted the website address for the Keep Olympic Wrestling effort, something that the show rarely if ever does for their guests. Gardner and Cejudo did a number of other media appearances during the week on behalf of Olympic wrestling.

• During its live coverage of the finals of the NCAA Wrestling Championships on Saturday night, ESPN did a short feature on the Keep Olympic Wrestling effort, with interviews with Penn State coach and Olympic champion Cael Sanderson and 2012 Olympic champion Jordan Burroughs. In addition, Burroughs was featured in the NCAA Wrestling promotional video used by ESPN all week to advertise the telecast.

• Information on the Keep Olympic Wrestling movement were available to NCAA wrestling fans at three major locations in Des Moines, including the concourse at Wells Fargo Arena, at the NCAA Fan Festival and at the W.I.N. Memorabilia Show. Wrestling athletes and fans of all ages were able to give their testimonials on video tape about why wrestling is so important and why the IOC should keep it as an Olympic sport. These videos will be used to help promote the effort in the upcoming months.

• Team USA held public workouts at the NCAA Fan Festival all three days of the NCAA Tournament between sessions. On Friday, March 22, live matches were held during the practice, simulating an international competition. Thousands of fans watched these matches, which featured top Olympic stars and future Olympic hopefuls. The live matches were also webcast live for fans around the nation to watch. Also as part of the Fan Festival, Olympic champion Jordan Burroughs and Jake Varner and National Coach Zeke Jones had a highly successful autograph session for fans, helping promote Olympic wrestling.

• During the NCAA Championships week, a Scheels sporting goods store in West Des Moines presented a $1,000 check to USA Wrestling and joined the Coalition to Keep Wrestling In the Olympics, the growing group of organizations supporting the effort. The owners created a low-price t-shirt which followed all U.S. Olympic Committee guidelines which said Save Wrestling 2020. It was featured at the front of the store and proceeds from the sales went directly to USA Wrestling’s effort.

• Numerous media reports all over the United States continued on the Olympic wrestling topic. Olympic medalist Clarissa Chun was featured in national and regional media reports, focusing on the opportunities for women within Olympic wrestling. Other Team USA members who recently competed overseas were interviewed by their local media outlets.

International Relations News and Effort

• USA Wrestling Executive Director Rich Bender travelled to the European Wrestling Championships in Tbilisi, Georgia, to continue his efforts to create an international coalition of wrestling nations to work together to Keep Olympic Wrestling. Bender met with FILA Bureau members, as well as members of the FILA staff. There were specific meetings with leaders from Iran, Bulgaria, Russia, Finland, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Belarus on a variety of topics, including the IOC Executive Board recommendation, the upcoming FILA presentation to the IOC Executive Board, improvements to FILA governance and administration, and special wrestling events to be held worldwide to promote the sport. The international coalition that has been formed is very strong, and will be a great asset to FILA and international wrestling as the IOC strategy is implemented. Exciting international news about the effort is expected in the upcoming days.

• Support is building worldwide for FILA Acting President Nenad Lalovic, who has announced that he will run for the position of President of FILA during the Extraordinary Congress set for Moscow, Russia in May. Lalovic has been instrumental in making a series of important changes within FILA and international wrestling which helps strengthen the sport as it attempts to remain a core sport on the Olympic program.

• FILA's planning for the presentation to the IOC Executive Board at SportAccord in May in St. Petersburg Russia is well underway. FILA's presentation team will include Acting President Lalovic as well as several luminaries from the world of international wrestling. The objective of the presentation is to describe the ongoing governance and management review and changes within FILA, and to layout a new global vision for the sport going forward in an effort to remain on the Olympic program.

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.

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