Greco-Roman and acrobatic wrestling guide

OMNISPORT

Place: Carioca Arena 2

Medals available: 54

Appointment: Greco-Roman – August 14-16, Freestyle – August 17-21

Dominant countries: The United States and Japan are powerful forces in freestyle wrestling, but Russia is the sport’s preeminent superpower in freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling.

Star Names: Kaori Icho (Japan), Hamid Sourian (Iran), Roman Vlasov (Russia)

Wrestling will fight to prove its relevance in Rio after battling on the verge of Olympic extinction.

One of the key sports of the ancient Olympics, wrestling has been a part of every modern Summer Games since 1904, but was in danger of being abandoned when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) reduced the number of base sports by 26 to 25 in February 2013.

With its protected status withdrawn and its inclusion after Rio to be decided on Games by Games, baseball / softball and squash competed to replace wrestling from 2020.

Months of intense lobbying and internal reforms saw wrestling granted a reprieve when in September 2013 it was admitted as a non-essential sport for the Tokyo Games and also in 2024, meaning that Rio won’t be the last fight for what was once the final aspect. of the old pentathlon.

Modern wrestling is made up of two distinct disciplines, although the goal is broadly the same – pinning your opponent to the ground, causing a technical fall, or, if neither of these end-of-match events occur, surpass them on points.

The use of legs is not permitted in Greco-Roman wrestling for men, which also prohibits holds below the waist, but both are permitted in freestyle wrestling, contested at the Games by men and, since Athens 2004, the women.

To secure a reprieve from the IOC, United World Wrestling elected Nenad Lalovic to replace Raphael Martinetti, who stepped down as president after the sport’s humiliation at being removed from the Olympic program.

Two new weight classes for women, greater involvement of athletes in decision-making and rule changes aimed at increasing levels of entertainment, led by Lalovic, saved the sport.

After ruling out – for now – the threat of being considered obsolete, the fight must also face the specter of doping, after Davit Modzmanashvili, the Georgian silver medalist in the 120 kg freestyle in London 2012, admitted to using meldonium, while several other wrestlers also tested positive for the substance, which was added to the World Anti-Doping Agency’s ban list in January.

Spectators looking to overcome the scandal and the threat of extinction hope to see a fourth gold medal for Japan’s Kaori Icho, who has won all of the gold medals offered in the under 63 kg category at the Olympic level since. the introduction of women’s wrestling in Athens.

His preparation is far from ideal, however, having suffered his first competitive loss since 2003 in a fight in the under 58kg category at a Grand Prix in Russia in January, ending a remarkable series of 189 successive victories on the mat.


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Robert J. King