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Lalovic's next quest: Return wrestling to core of Olympic program

FILA President Nenad Lalovic addresses the media on Sunday night in Budapest. Tony Rotundo photo.

BUDAPEST, Hungary – Nenad Lalovic’s work isn’t done yet.

The FILA President masterfully led wrestling’s incredible fight to stay in the Olympic Games.

But one week after the International Olympic Committee voted wrestling in as a provisional Olympic sport for 2020 and 2024, Lalovic already is moving forward in his next quest.

Returning wrestling to its long-standing place as a core sport in the Olympic program.

That quest continues this week at the FILA World Championships, which will be contested over the next seven days here at the Papp Laszlo Sports Arena.

“It’s been exactly seven days since the IOC vote, and we achieved what we intended,” Lalovic said during a press conference Sunday night. “We are very happy with that. It improves our credibility and our responsibility. But we have to continue working. We don’t stop today or tomorrow. Our aim is to be back as a core sport. We need to keep fighting for that until it happens.”

Lalovic promised a great show for the fans this week in Budapest, stopping short of providing any details before simply saying there will be a few surprises.

“The presentation will be quite different tomorrow,” the charismatic Lalovic said, flashing a smile. “The quality of wrestling is much better now. It’s a great opportunity to watch new wrestling. It’s more entertaining and appealing, and easier to understand. We are preparing to be one of the most interesting Olympic sports in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. We need to do that to become a core sport again in 2017.”

New rules changes, with cumulative scoring and longer matches, have already led to an improved product on the mat.

“The changes we have introduced have provided good results,” he said. “Scoring has increased considerably and the new rules are good. We’ve made some mistakes, because we did this in a very short time, but we will fix those. We will continue to improve the rules.”

Lalovic said fans can expect significant changes in Greco-Roman wrestling, a discipline that is the strength of the host country in this event.

“These rule changes have had more impact on Greco-Roman than any other style,” he said. “There is more action now and the changes are fantastic. It’s not boring. It’s exciting to watch.”

Lalovic took over as FILA President in February, shortly after the IOC Executive Board recommended wrestling be removed as a core sport.

The Serbian businessman has been all over the globe, promoting the sport and pushing for wrestling’s inclusion in the Olympics.

“It’s been inspiring,” Lalovic said. “You’ve seen countries like Russia, Iran and the United States come together in this fight. You saw people rally around the event we had in Greece. We have a great community in this sport. I don’t know of any other sport that can gather so many people like wrestling can.

“We have momentum and we need to continue to build on that. We will continue to modernize the sport and make it better. We need to take full advantage of what we’ve done.”
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