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|CPOW Weekly Update for May 28, 2013|
By Committee for the Preservation of Olympic Wrestling
SUMMARY: IOC President Jacques Rogge praises wrestling for its positive changes… FILA announces its presenters for St. Petersburg presentations: Nenad Lalovic, Jim Scherr, Carol Huynh, Daniel Igali, Lise Legrand… Wrestling wins key Inside The Games online poll asking which sport should be in 2020 Olympics… Strong lineups announced and celebrities expected at the “Battle At The Falls” women’s event in Niagara Falls, Canada… Positive response in media to new international wrestling rules… Sports Illustrated does major wrestling coverage, giving The Rumble on The Rails coverage as lead story in Scorecard, and naming Kyle Dake as Male College Athlete of the Year… CPOW releases PSAs featuring famous athletes in other sports supporting wrestling… World Wrestling Month event in California, the Junior Greco World Duals, is a success…
The Committee for the Preservation of Olympic Wrestling (CPOW) is 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.
Here are the key news items that developed in the last week on the international and domestic scenes. This week, there is an urgent meeting of the International Olympic Committee Executive Board on Wednesday, May 29 as part of the SportAccord Convention in St. Petersburg, Russia.
International Relations News and Effort
• In a major interview with the Associated Press, International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge made some very positive statements about the changes in wrestling in its quest to remain on the Olympic program. Rogge said FILA, the international wrestling federation, has dealt with the issues that led the IOC executive board in February to recommend that wrestling be removed from the list of core sports for the 2020 Games. “I think they had the good answer and the good reaction," said Rogge. He continued, saying "the federation definitely understood the reasons why they were ousted, and they reacted what they normally should have done. They did a good job on that, so we'll see what the judgment is of the executive board on all of the eight sports but definitely I would say that wrestling has reacted well.” Rogge praised a number of changes made by FILA during its Extraordinary Congress in Moscow, Russia last week. “They will have an athletes' commission they did not have. They will have women on board the executive board which they did not have. They will change the length of bouts to make it more clear for the public on the counting of the points. There are also a lot of technical rules that are going to be associated,” he said.
• Final preparations for wrestling’s presentation to the IOC Executive Board in St. Petersburg, Russia on May 29 is underway. Wrestling will be evaluated by the IOC Executive Committee along with seven other sports, hoping to make the short list of sports which will be brought before the IOC General Assembly in Buenos Aires, Argentina in September for the final provisional spot on the Olympic program. FILA has announced the names of the five panelists that will participate in its presentation. Newly elected FILA President Nenad Lalovic will be one of the presenters, along with Jim Scherr of the United States, Carol Huyhn of Canada, Daniel Igali of Nigeria and Canada and Lise Legrand of France. “These five panelists are representative of the passion, dedication and diversity of wrestling’s athletes and fans around the world,” said Lalovic. Scherr, an Olympic wrestler, is former CEO of the U.S. Olympic Committee, the Executive Director of USA Wrestling for a decade and a leader in the Olympic sports community. Igali, who grew up in Nigeria but competed for Canada, was an Olympic champion and now serves in Nigeria’s provincial parliament. Huynh is the daughter of Chinese refugees from northern Vietnam who won Canada’s first Olympic gold medal in women’s wrestling. Legrand, an Olympic bronze medalist, is a vice-president of the French Wrestling Federation.
• Just days before the key vote of the IOC Executive Board concerning the short list of sports for consideration at the 2020 Olympics, wrestling showed its worldwide popularity by winning an important online poll. Inside the Games, a leading Olympic website, asked a simple question throughout the month of May. The poll asked: Which sport do you think the IOC should vote to include on the Olympic programme for 2020? Voters could select from the eight sports under consideration by the IOC. Wrestling won the poll with over 42 percent of the total, with over 134,000 votes cast in favor of wrestling. Squash was second with 32 percent of the vote, with karate a distant third with just 16 percent of the vote. Inside the Games is considered one of the major sources for news, information and commentary on the Olympic movement worldwide, and is respected within the Olympic family.
• The final lineups have been announced for the last major event of World Wrestling Month, the “Battle At The Falls,” the women’s freestyle wrestling event in Niagara Falls, Canada on May 31st. Canada, the USA and Ukraine will compete in dual meets, in front of one of the world’s iconic locations, Niagara Falls. The United States team will feature all seven of the 2013 U.S. Open champions, the nation’s best women wrestlers. Included are World champion Elena Pirozhkova at 63 kg and World medalist Helen Maroulis at 55 kg and Alyssa Lampe at 48 kg. Team Ukraine is led by World champions Katerina Burmistrova at 72 kg and Ganna Vasilenko at 63 kg, plus World medalist Natalya Synyshyn at 59 kg. The host Canadians bring World champion Jessica MacDonald at 51 kg and World medalist Justine Bouchard at 63 kg. The event will be webcast live on TheMat.com and on the Canadian wrestling website, www.wrestling.ca. Numerous star athletes and guests will be on hand, including two members of the FILA International Wrestling Hall of Fame, Dan Gable of the United States and Christine Nordhagen of Canada. Accompanying the U.S. team will be women’s wrestling pioneer and three-time World medalist Afsoon Roshanzamir-Johnston. Canadian celebrities on hand include three-time Olympic medalist Tonya Verbeek, multiple World champion and Olympian Martine Dugrenier, former wrestler and UFC fighter Sean Pierson and numerous other past Canadian Olympic wrestlers.
• Reactions to the new international wrestling rules approved at the recent FILA Extraordinary Congress continue to be positive. The Des Moines Register spoke to wrestlers who competed under these rules at United 4 Wrestling in Los Angeles. Olympic bronze medalist Coleman Scott said, “I really think it’s going to make a big difference in our bidding to get into the Olympics. I feel better now after watching what happened in L.A. and how the crowd responded and how we like the rules and the amount of points that were going up.” Past World team member Brent Metcalf, who like Scott competed under the rules in Los Angeles, believes this will help promote freestyle wrestling better to American fans. “Maybe it’s as simple as the rule changes. Maybe it’s as simple as Americans winning gold medals? That’s really what starts producing results. A lot of positives happened,” Metcalf said.
• Sports Illustrated, the world’s most respected sports magazine, has been very active in covering Olympic wrestling in the past week. A story by Brian Cazeneuve, entitled “Grappling With Change” was the lead story in the popular Scorecard section of the May 27 print issue of SI. Cazenueve covered the Rumble On The Rails in Grand Central Terminal in New York City, and provided insight into the effort to Keep Olympic Wrestling. Cazeneuve included quotes from Olympic champion Jordan Burroughs, Iran star Mehdi Taghavi, and Olympic champion and NCAA championship coach Cael Sanderson. Cazeneuve wrote that “the most daunting issue is the uneasy balance between the purity of a sport that dates to the ancient Games and a call for all sports to modernize and appeal to younger generations.”
• The same issue of Sports Illustrated also featured the announcement of the first Male College Athlete of the Year, in which four-time NCAA champion Kyle Dake, a top 2016 Olympic hopeful for the United States. The story, written by Luke Winn, explains his amazing achievement, becoming the first college wrestler to win four NCAA Div. I national titles in four different weight classes. The article explained how on a daily basis, Dake kept a small notebook, where he wrote down National Champion every morning and night throughout his college career. In all, Dake wrote it 2,978 times before his college career ended, and is now focused on his Olympic career, where he has a new notebook. “He'll start another for the next three world championships and the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics. Kyle Dake is done with college, but he has not finished writing,” the article noted.
• Worldwide support for the changes in wrestling approved at the FILA Extraordinary Congress continued throughout the week. An AFP article, which appeared in newspapers across the world, featured an interview with new FILA President Nenad Lalovic. “We have introduced reforms and now we have to use those to regain our place. We must put on a good presentation next week and then hopefully prepare for September,” said Lalovic. He was confident that the new rule changes will be successful. “This will give us the opportunity to show the IOC members in Buenos Aires how the rule changes have made a difference and aroused the interest of the spectators and the media,” he said. Lalovic also praised the nature of wrestlers, who instinctively battle back after setbacks. “The morale of a wrestler is a very specific thing. We can be thrown onto the mat but there is no such thing in our psyche as a knockout,” said Lalovic.
• CPOW has created a series of public service announcements from a number of well-known celebrities who support the effort to Keep Olympic Wrestling. The first five PSAs, featuring successful athletes and figures from other sports, have been released in the past week. The PSAs included Legendary Olympic champion swimmer Mark Spitz, Olympic gymnastics champions Bart Conner and Nadia Comaneci, Hall of Fame baseball manager Tommy Lasorda, Olympic swimming champion Janet Evans and professional boxing stars Armando Muniz and Carlos Palomino. These PSAs will be aired on major television networks, through online media platforms and at major wrestling and sports events around the world. A number of celebrities from the entertainment industry worked on additional PSAs during the World Wrestling Month events in New York City and Los Angeles, and another group of PSAs will be produced and released in the upcoming weeks.
• The fourth international event held in the United States as part of World Wrestling Month was a big success, the Junior Greco-Roman World Duals in Concord, Calif., May 25-26. Teams from a number of nations participated, along with a variety of teams from within the United States. The 14th year of this event, the competition stresses education and development, with a dual meet event, an individual tournament and a number of free clinics coached by top experts, all geared to help the young wrestlers expand their wrestling knowledge. A U.S. team from Oregon repeated as the champions, with a United States All-Star team taking second. The Best Match was between Ronnie Bresser of Oregon and Simon Andersson of Scandinavia at 56 kg. The best tech nician was Kevin Mejia of Honduras, who was competing at 98 kg for the CYC team. The two Outstanding Wrestlers were on the All-Star team from different parts of the USA, Kevon Powell of Ohio in the light weights and Burke Paddock of New York in the upper weights. As part of World Wrestling Month, a focus of the event was to bring wrestlers and fans together from around the world in a show of solidarity to support Olympic wrestling.
• USA Wrestling’s Junior Olympic Wrestling Committee approved the following motion: “Effective immediately, all national tournaments shall implement the newly approved rules of wrestling. The rules under which regional championships will be competed shall be determined by the respective regions.” The first major USA Wrestling national event which successfully used the new FILA rules for freestyle and Greco-Roman was the ASICS University Nationals and FILA Cadet Nationals, May 23-26 in Akron, Ohio. The other six national events remaining on the 2013 USA Wrestling National Schedule will utilize these new rules as well.
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.