Thursday, February 14, 2013

Irish wrestlers respond to IOC announcement

Wrestlers at Hercules Club Dublin PIC Cecile Gordon 

These are some of the wrestlers who may never get to compete at an Olympic Games if Jacques Rogge and the rest of International Olympic Committee have their way. 

The IOC announced this week they are considering dropping wrestling from the list of 25 permanent sports after the 2020 games. A final decision will be made in September.

Wrestling is one of the very few sports which was actually in the Ancient Games, and to say the sporting world has been shocked by this announcment is an understatement. A quick Google search shows you how international the condemation has been. 

As it happened I was at Hercules Club in Dublin with photographer Cecile Gordon on Tuesday evening - hours after the announcement. The coaches just shook their heads when I asked, it would be a disaster said one. 

Keith Kennedy said: “It’s not definite yet. We get people in here from Russia, Bulgaria and they want to show their kids how to do the sport. It’s an international sport.”

Former wrestler turned coach Daniel Kennedy who trains the girls in the photo above said: “I said to one of the girls here ‘Do you know Katie Taylor?’ She lit up. I said: ‘Do you want to be the first female wrestling gold medal from Ireland?’ She looked at me with a big smile, I could see her picturing that bus going through Dublin. It’s just a matter of getting the right one.”

The sport is just starting to take off in Ireland with the relatively recent influx of immigrants from countries where the sport is strong. And the numbers of women taking part is still tiny but as you can see that's also on the increase. 

Taking away the glamour of the Olympics would deal a fatal blow to clubs like Hercules.

Read more about the IOC decision here. 

UPDATE - meant to add: a feature on Hercules Club in next month's Irish Fighter

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