Freestyle wrestling returns to the 2021 Olympics after being placed on the chopping block.
Wrestling was almost eliminated as an Olympic sport by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) following the 2016 Games. After decades, the organization felt that freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling (the oldest Olympic sport) had passed their peak within the framework of the event.
Fortunately, the IOC overturned the decision after months of protest and outrage in the international wrestling community. And we will have Greco-Roman and Freestyle wrestling competitions this summer.
2021 Olympic Games: Summary of Freestyle Wrestling Rules
Freestyle wrestling differs from traditional Greco-Roman wrestling in a significant way. Unlike the sport’s older counterpart, freestyle allows the use of the wrestler’s or opponent’s legs in both attack and defense. A freestyle wrestling competition is called a match and consists of two three-minute sessions.
Competitors gather in the center of the mat and shake hands, in a sign of respect for the sport and for each other, before the referee blows his whistle to start the match. A wrestler must beat his opponent before the end of the two three-minute periods to win a match.
Competitors can earn up to five points per action, depending on the activity. Similar to Greco-Roman wrestling, contestants earn points primarily based on explosive action and risk. The scoring system is identical to the Greco-Roman wrestling, with the specifics of the movements which receive points as the only difference. Only a fall, a default injury or a disqualification ends the match; all other wins occur at the end of the two three-minute periods.
Unlike high school and college wrestling that many are used to, freestyle wrestling matches never go to extra periods. If neither wrestler scores in a two-minute streak of the match, the referee will identify the more passive wrestler. This wrestler has a thirty second window to score. If the wrestler does not score, his opponent gets a point.
There are several ways for a wrestler to win a match. A “win in the fall” means that a wrestler has pinned his opponent. A “victory by technological fall” is achieved when a wrestler has outstripped his opponent by ten points at any time during the match. A “decision win” means that the wrestler dominated his opponent at the end of the match. A “default win” means that a wrestler has achieved victory because his opponent did not complete the match for reasons other than injury. An “injury win” means the opponent was injured during the match and could not continue. Finally, a “win by disqualification” means that the opponent has received three “warnings” for breaking the rules and has been disqualified.
2021 Olympics: freestyle wrestling rivalry to watch
American Kyle Snyder is hoping to repeat his success at the 2016 Olympics with another gold medal. Snider, the youngest wrestler to complete the Triple Crown of wrestling (winning the World, NCAA, and Olympic championships in the same year), will have his hands full with a familiar opponent in his bid for back-to-back gold.
Abdulrashid Sadulaev is also an Olympic gold medalist and world champion at 86 kg. The “Russian tank” has a multitude of national and international titles to its credit. After deciding to move up to 97kg in the weight classes, it was inevitable that he and Snyder would meet on the international stage.
Snyder and Sadulaev have faced each other twice, with the pair separating in victories. Snyder enters the Olympics with the most recent success, pinning Sadulaev in the final of the 2021 championships.
While there will be a ton of big struggles this year, keep a close eye on Snyder and Sadulaev. Likely, they will both make it to the gold medal match, which will also be their rubber match.
Olympics 2021: freestyle wrestling teams to know
Japan’s women’s team is the most dominant in the world, having won 11 of 18 Olympic gold medals since the sport’s introduction to the Olympics in 2004. They have also won 22 world team titles since the first world championships. in women’s wrestling in 1987, including 11 of the last 13 titles.
This year we can expect the team to put in another strong performance as the host nation of the event. Led by current 57kg gold medalist Risako Kawai, the Japanese women’s team entered this summer’s games favored to win more medals than any other nation in the sport.