To say U.S. wrestlers are unhappy about the IOC's decision to drop their sport from the Olympics is an understatement.
“I don't think I've really accepted it yet,” said Cael Sanderson, who won a gold medal at the 2004 Games. “I'll absolutely do everything in my power to make sure that the decision doesn't go through and it isn't finalized in the fall. This is a big deal. You're talking about your kids having that dream of winning a gold medal. It inspires you to be better, to work hard, to set goals.”
International Olympic Committee leaders dropped wrestling from the Summer Games on Tuesday. The move is set to take effect for the 2020 Olympics and eliminates a sport that has been a staple of both the ancient and modern Games.
Former Olympic champion Tom Brands says the international wrestling community needs to band together and fight.
“You have to get people behind you, you have to do it smart,” he said. “You have to do it educated, you have to do it professionally, and you have to do it with some muscle, as well.”
The decision by the IOC to phase out wrestling will leave the U.S. without one of its most successful Olympic sports. The only sports in which the Americans have won more medals than wrestling is swimming and track and field.
“It just made me sick to think that the opportunity for 14-, 15-, 16-year-old kids who have thoughts about being an Olympic champion is erased,” two-time Olympic gold medalist John Smith said.
Former gold medalist Kurt Angle said, “The Americans have been such a big success. I'm hoping the IOC doesn't have something against the American community. This is hard. This is going to hurt college programs. This is going to hurt MMA. Most of all, it's going to affect all those kids, the dreams of wanting to be an Olympic champion. I think everybody's in shock.”
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