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World-class wrestling duals raise awareness of sport's Olympic connection

By: Joe Paisley joe.paisley@gaazette.com
July 12, 2013 Updated: July 12, 2013 at 6:05 pm
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photo - An Iranian boy carries USA flag as U.S freestyle wrestling coaches Brandon Slay, front right, and Noel Thomsen, are seen during a parade at the Azadi stadium in Tehran, Iran on Thursday March. 12, 2009. Competition kicked off on Thursday morning for a team of six United States wrestlers in Tehran to take part in Iran's Takhti Wrestling Cup. The US athletes along with a team of coaches arrived in the Iranian capital on Wednesday ahead of the tournament, amidst speculation whether their participation in the competition was an indication that the icy relations between the two country were beginning to thaw. (AP Photo / Hasan Sarbakhshian)
An Iranian boy carries USA flag as U.S freestyle wrestling coaches Brandon Slay, front right, and Noel Thomsen, are seen during a parade at the Azadi stadium in Tehran, Iran on Thursday March. 12, 2009. Competition kicked off on Thursday morning for a team of six United States wrestlers in Tehran to take part in Iran's Takhti Wrestling Cup. The US athletes along with a team of coaches arrived in the Iranian capital on Wednesday ahead of the tournament, amidst speculation whether their participation in the competition was an indication that the icy relations between the two country were beginning to thaw. (AP Photo / Hasan Sarbakhshian) 

USA Wrestling and the world's other national federations are doing their best to keep their sport in the Olympics.

One way they are doing that is by raising awareness of the Keep Olympic Wrestling movement through this weekend's Care and Share Food Bank for Southern Colorado fundraiser at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs and another event at the site of the ancient Olympics in Greece next weekend.

The Keep Olympic Wrestling Duals, a men's freestyle wrestling competition, is at 2 p.m. Saturday and features world-class entrants from the United States, Kazakhstan, Chile and Canada.

"Kazakstan has one of the best wrestling teams in the world and to have them come here for a home dual is a great opportunity for Team USA," assistant coach Brandon Slay said. "We have four countries represented and all united together for a common cause; keeping wrestling in the Olympics."

Instead of buying a ticket, spectators will be asked to donate food or money. The most needed food items include canned fruits, meat, soup, tuna and vegetables, peanut butter, cereal and oatmeal. Each dollar received can buy 10 pounds of food, the equivalent of eight meals, according to Care and Share.

The IOC Executive Committee recommended in February that wrestling be removed as a core sport from the 2020 Olympics.

Efforts since helped convince the IOC to select wrestling as one of three candidates for the final provisional spot in the 2020 Games. The others are baseball/softball and squash. A vote of the full IOC membership will be Sept. 8 in Buenos Aires.

Next weekend, male and female youth wrestlers from Albania, Brazil, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Iran, Russia and the United States, will compete in the Greece tournament. The 2020 Games would be the first Olympics that these young grapplers would be eligible.

"It is a great honor to host such an event at the birthplace of the Olympic Games," Greek federation president Constantine Thanos said. " The Greek Wrestling Federation is excited and feels confident this event will echo to the world the historic importance of the sport of wrestling as an integral part of the Modern Olympic Games as it was for the ancient Games."

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