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Wrestling reinstated for 2020 Olympics

By: MATT STEINER The Gazette
September 8, 2013 Updated: September 8, 2013 at 2:05 pm
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photo - FILE - This is a  Friday, Aug. 10, 2012  file photo of United States' Jordan Ernest Burroughs, in red, and Puerto Rico's Francisco Daniel Soler Tanco, in blue, as they compete during a 74-kg men's freestyle wrestling competition at the 2012 Summer Olympics,in London. Wrestling is hoping to be included into the 2020 Olympic Games. Rarely, if ever, has so much been on the line at a single Olympic meeting. When IOC members gather next week in Buenos Aires, Argentina, they will be faced with three decisions that will shape the direction of the Olympic movement for the next decade. At stake: Choosing the host city of the 2020 Olympics, electing a new IOC president to succeed Jacques Rogge and selecting one sport to add to the 2020 program. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File)
FILE - This is a Friday, Aug. 10, 2012 file photo of United States' Jordan Ernest Burroughs, in red, and Puerto Rico's Francisco Daniel Soler Tanco, in blue, as they compete during a 74-kg men's freestyle wrestling competition at the 2012 Summer Olympics,in London. Wrestling is hoping to be included into the 2020 Olympic Games. Rarely, if ever, has so much been on the line at a single Olympic meeting. When IOC members gather next week in Buenos Aires, Argentina, they will be faced with three decisions that will shape the direction of the Olympic movement for the next decade. At stake: Choosing the host city of the 2020 Olympics, electing a new IOC president to succeed Jacques Rogge and selecting one sport to add to the 2020 program. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File) 

A loud cheer echoed through northern Colorado Springs on Sunday morning.

Just after 9:30 a.m., about 75 people gathered at USA Wrestling headquarters could breathe a little easier after International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge declared wrestling reinstated for the 2020 and 2024 Olympics.

"After having heard we made it, there is that much more fight," said Erin Golston, of the national women's team, who is targeting 2020 as her Olympic debut.

"Our dream is still alive," she said.

Wrestling, squash and baseball-softball joined five other sports to make their cases to retain the sports before the IOC in the "semifinals" in late May.

After an intense 10 minutes of nervously waiting for the IOC general assembly to complete the vote, Rogge announced that wrestling received 49 of 95 votes submitted.

Baseball/softball took second among three finalists with 24 votes and squash received 23.

Golston and her USA teammates broke almost complete silence with a deafening cheer, then in electronic-age fashion, they all began Tweeting the good news.

Clarissa Chun, a 2012 Olympic bronze medalist, was also at the USA Wrestling office on Lehman Drive on Sunday. She and others, including FILA president Nenad Lalovic, who was televised presenting from Buenos Aires, Argentina, called Sunday's decision "wrestling's biggest match in history."

"Today is the most important day in the 2,000-year history of our sport," said Lalovic, who became leader of international wrestling's governing body in February after the IOC eliminated his sport as a core Olympic sport. "We feel the weight of that history. Remaining on the Olympic program is crucial to wrestling's survival."

After wrestling officials made a final presentation to the more than 100 delegates to the general assembly, they took questions about changes made to the sport and the future.

The biggest questions raised centered around years in which delegates considered wrestling a stagnate sport.

Chang Ung, a taekwondo official from North Korea, said, "you have to go forward with the evolution" when addressing Lalovic, the United States' Jim Scherr, and three other presenters for wrestling.

"We all make mistakes, but we decided to listen and learn," Lalovic said.

Under Lalovic's guidance, FILA made a move toward diversity, adding women to the organization's leadership and creating two more women's weight divisions for the Olympics. The governing body also made rule changes in an effort to make the sport more spectator friendly.

Wrestling dates back to about 700 B.C. and has been a part of the modern-day Olympics since 1896.

Chun and 2008 Olympic bronze medalist Randi Miller were each confident, although nervous, before Sunday's decision but said with wrestling's rich history the vote could only go in their sport's favor.

"I can't imagine it any other way," Miller said.

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