Olympics and wrestling part ways


[2A]wrestlingCougars wrestler Kirk Ackerman weighs in

Paige Kreutzwieser

Scandalous moments are quite common in the Olympic games. Whether it’s badminton players trying to lose, French figure skating judges botching scores, or a man in a tutu diving into the Olympic pool. Well, new drama has hit the international sporting event once again.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has crushed the dreams of many by announcing the elimination of the sport of wrestling from the 2020 Summer Olympics.

A sport that was one of the founding games at the Olympics has now been put on the chopping block. Wrestling, which is an integral part of the official Olympic song – which, surprisingly actually exists – is a cornerstone to the history of the Olympics and the IOC’s decision has upset many people around the world.

It’s not hard, even around the U of R, to find some pretty emotional responses to this new decision. There are students on campus who have spent well over a decade of their lives training in the hopes of being an Olympian, and now that dream no longer.

The U of R is host to some amazing wrestling talent. This season, Cougars’ Lisa McKibben and Steven Schneider both won gold medals at the CIS championships at the beginning of March.

Not to mention Regina’s wrestling program has been fairly successful over the years with many of the athletes winning medals at both the Canada West and CIS level. Now these athletes’ Olympic futures are in jeopardy.

Kirk Ackerman, fifth-year Kinesiology student and three-time silver medalist at the CIS championships, is no exception to the talented roster at the U of R.     Unfortunately, his final year as a Cougar was stifled by injury, but for someone like him the decision by the
OC was a tough pill to swallow.

“It was a huge shock,” said Ackerman, after hearing the news. “It came out of nowhere.”

The IOC stunned the wrestling community and much of the world when they announced the decision to drop the sport. Wrestling, along with seven other sports, is scheduled to be removed from the Games in 2020.

“London doesn’t have a big wrestling background, but in the world cup Iran has some of the craziest fans. [It] is becoming bigger with things like people going into MMA. But, wrestlers who win Olympic medals are superstars, so it’s huge.” – Kirk Ackerman

Fortunately, one of the seven sports ousted from the Games will have the chance take part in 2020 – only one. There are meetings in both May and September before the final decision is made about which one of the seven sports will remain in the Olympics.

“I think it looks pretty good,” said Ackerman, who remains optimistic wrestling will be the one sport selected.

 Ackerman believes that the newly formed alliance between Iran, Russia, and the United States to get wrestling back into the Olympics – and rumors about how the Olympic torch may not be lit in Greece in spite of this decision – are all steps in the right direction for of the sport.

Ackerman also mentioned about how Valdimir Putin, Russia’s president, spoke about doing everything in his power to have wrestling remain as an event. While “everything in his power” isn’t entirely clear, but the man once wrestled a bear – you read that right – so he is not the type to back down.

Revenue and ticket sales were a big part of the decision by the IOC to remove wrestling from the Olympic roster, but Ackerman explains that wrestling isn’t as unpopular as people may think.

“London doesn’t have a big wrestling background,” said Ackerman about the 2012 Olympics. “But in the world cup in Iran has some of the craziest fans. Russia and Cuba, they all just love wrestling.

“[Wrestling] is becoming bigger with things like people going into MMA. But, wrestlers who win Olympic medals are superstars, so it’s huge.”

Whether or not people agree with the IOC’s decision, not much can be done at a local level. Ackerman has signed local petitions to save the sport, but he noted that all the real decisions are made at a much higher level. With all of that said, Ackerman is pleased with the way things are looking for the future of the sport.

“It’s all being done now, so it’s looking good,” he said.

Come mid-September, wrestling and its fans will have an answer. For now, everyone will just sit and wait to see if Putin can execute a flawless suplex on IOC’s president Jacques Rogge to show him who’s boss.

Photo by Arthur Ward

Comments are closed.