UNITED NATIONS —
They hope the IOC is watching and notices the symbolism.
“I think they are. They have to. Three superpowers in the world are telling them to put it back in,” said Kyle Dake, who will be competing in his first major senior-level international event after becoming the first wrestler to win NCAA titles in four weight classes.
Wrestling is now one of eight sports seeking to fill one spot in the 2020 Olympics. The IOC board will meet May 29 in Russia to recommend a short list, with the final decision in September.
Wednesday’s meet is one of many events around the world this month to promote the sport. The Iranians will also wrestle the Americans in Los Angeles on Sunday.
All these efforts to publicize the sport are among the lessons of the IOC’s decision. Wrestling leaders are rethinking everything from their governance structure to their rules.
There’s a sense the sport will emerge stronger from these tribulations — if it emerges as an ongoing part of the Olympics.
“It’s a weird feeling,” said U.S. freestyle coach Zeke Jones. “Wrestling’s not going away. It’s what humans do; it’s innate in mankind. But you have this feeling of, ‘Man, we’re getting better right now when we might not be in the Olympic Games.”’