Chinese wrestlers welcome IOC decision

Shenyang (China), Sep 10 (IANS) Chinese wrestling coaches and athletes are relieved as their sport has been voted back into the Summer Olympics.

At the 125th International Olympic Committee (IOC) Session in Buenos Aires Sep 8, wrestling defeated a joint bid of baseball-softball and squash in a secret ballot to earn its place in the programme for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo and the 2024 Games.

"I had been badly affected by the news that wrestling was kicked out of the Olympics. I can't do without the sport," said London Olympics silver medallist Jing Ruixue who came fourth in women's 63 kg freestyle at the ongoing Chinese National Games here Sunday.

Hours later, Jing was delighted to know that wrestling was back in the Olympics.

"To me, no other competition can be compared to the Olympics," she said.

Jing was among the six wrestling Olympic medallists who brought China one gold, two silver and three bronze medals since 1984.

The small number of Olympic medals makes wrestling a lesser sport in the country that already topped the medal tally with 51-21-28 in Beijing Games and claimed second-place in London on 38-27-23.

As China spends hugely on promoting Olympic sports, wrestling could have been faced with a steep drop in state funding if it failed to be included in the Olympic programme.

With little social attention and few sponsors, Chinese wrestlers almost solely depend on state funds for a living.

"If the sport could not return to the Olympic family, so many athletes would lose their jobs," said coach Liu Guoke from Shandong, where there are thousands of registered wrestlers.

"Beginners can have more choices but things will become difficult for those who have trained for over 10 years," he added. "They have no other skills than wrestling."

While relieved at wrestling's return, athletes and coaches wish more changes to the historic sport.

"I think poor promotion and marketing is the main reason wrestling was previously kicked out of the core sports," said Zhao Xiaochun, deputy head of the Shanxi provincial delegation.

"Anyway, if they don't make any changes, the sport is always in danger of losing its Olympic status," he said.

FILA already introduced several sweeping reforms in their efforts to regain Olympic status which included an increase in women's participation at all levels of the sport, a review of the rules of wrestling with the intent of making the sport more understandable and attractive to spectators and less dependent upon subjective officiating.


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