By Patrick Lujan
The threat of the International Olympic Committee to cancel the sport of wrestling in 2020 has caused the Guam wrestling community to be in the state of concern.
“It’s one of the founding sports of the Olympics. That’s why a lot of people are shocked,” said two-time Guam Olympic wrestler Maria Dunn.
According to national reports, the IOC is contemplating removing the sport in 2020, a two-cycle process that must be made for proper notification.
“Basically, they’re saying that 2016 will be the last of wrestling,” added the 26-year-old Dunn. “It’s not final, but they’re deciding now that 2020 could be it. It’s a preliminary decision.”
Dunn, who trained for nearly a year in England prior to the 2012 Games, said it’s been a rumor for quite some time now that the lack of spectators has been the primary reason for such a drastic decision.
“Everyone was banking on it (being safe) being one of the three oldest sports in the Olympic Games and the fact that it was one of the traditional sports. I think it’s sad because I believe the Olympics is the spirit of sport, not the spirit of money or politics.”
The threat had led to a worldwide protest from wrestlers from around the globe. It has even brought to the countries of the United States and Iran to actually agree on something (U.S./Iran agree).
As for our local wrestlers it will surely hurt the aspirations of the select few who have legitimate shots at their Olympic dreams.
“My initial reaction was that it was crippling to wrestling worldwide,” said Terry Debold, who has been coaching wrestling on Guam since 1982. “But after reading about it, it shouldn’t deviate our local interest and our local wrestlers from being world champions.
“The Olympics is the pinnacle, but it’s certainly not the only level to achieve their goal. There’s still a lot of arenas for these guys to demonstrate their abilities. We should continue to develop the program.”
Just this year, young talents such as Jonah Whitt and Micah Lopez has shined bright in international and regional competition along with their dominance in local meets.
Like Debold, Dunn feels the sport will carry on either within just the wrestling world or as a building block to other sports.
“It’s more for hobby or part of the mixed martial arts game,” she said. “We’ll still have a lot of people wrestling because it has a good MMA base and it’s good for a lot of other sports.”
The Olympian hopes to coach high school wrestling next school year.
Read about Dunn’s thoughts post 2012 Games (‘I should’ve gone nuts’ Aug. 11, 2012)
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