Viking wrestlers respond to removal of wrestling from Olympics
For amateur wrestlers, there is one common goal that stands above the rest: the chance to wrestle in the Olympics. However, with the International Olympic Committee’s announcement Tuesday declaring that wrestling will be dropped from the Olympic competition starting in 2020, many wrestlers have lost the chance to reach this dream.
Just as many international wrestlers, athletes and fans have expressed their displeasure at the IOC’s decision (see #saveolympicwrestling), Palo Alto High School’s own wrestling community is disappointed at the news. For the wrestlers that put in countless hours of practice in order to perform at their best level, the loss of the Olympic competition is disheartening.
“You know, that’s like the biggest dream for all amateur wrestling … [to] to make an Olympic team,” varsity head coach David Duran said. “There were actually a few kids [in the 2008 Olympics] … who went right from high school to the Olympic Training Center just so they could be [Olympians].”
While the wrestling team is more focused on its upcoming Central Coast Section playoff tournament, Paly does have a strong wrestling history reflected in the accomplishments of brothers Dave and Mark Schultz, classes of 1977 and 1978 respectively, both of whom won gold medals in the 1984 Olympic freestyle wrestling competition.
According to varsity wrestler junior Jordan Gans, the decision to cut wrestling from the program reflects the limited popularity of the sport.
“It goes to show how the majority of people don’t know or like wrestling,” he said. “Wrestling teams struggle drawing crowds, and many college teams have dropped their wrestling programs.”
Fellow wrestler and junior Andrew Frick echoed Gans’s sentiments.
“Especially at the pro level, sports with more fans and popularity aren’t going to get the cut over ones like wrestling where not many people want to watch,” Frick said.
“We’ll see if this actually happens,” Duran said, with regards to whether the decision will hold true or be overruled by the IOC in September. “It’s a long ways away and we’ll see, because some people are going to fight this. … [Wrestling] is, if not the oldest, one of the oldest [sports in Olympic competition].”
For Paly wrestlers, the news does not affect their amateur wrestling careers, although it does give Gans a sense of urgency.
“I will just have to wrestle in the 2016 Olympics,” he said.