Coleman Scott Weighs in on IOC Decision

Scott after winning an Olympic bronze in 2012.

Scott after winning an Olympic bronze in 2012.

Feb. 25, 2013

Column by Coleman Scott in USA Today

I won the Olympics bronze medal in wrestling in London last summer. So I couldn't have imagined the news I learned recently on my way to Azerbaijan for training. Across the bottom of the television screen I read the news that wrestling would be dropped from the 2020 Olympics.

My first thought was that it couldn't be true. It's an original Olympic sport, and one of the true amateur sports still left. But wrestling had indeed been dropped.

While participating in the 2013 World Cup men's freestyle tournament held in Tehran last week, saving Olympic wrestling brought together some unlikely partners, including the U.S., Iran and Russia. Representatives of each country's wrestling organizations now plan to lobby the International Olympic Committee's executive board to reverse its decision when it meets in St. Petersburg, Russia, in May.

Wrestling has been a huge part of my life. I live for wrestling. Wrestlers don't have a professional league to play in, but we share the dream of winning an Olympic gold medal. And we make personal sacrifices to pursue our goal.

For the past four years, my wife and I have lived pretty much paycheck to paycheck. She supported our family and me, while I chased my dream. I graduated college, and I wrestle full-time. I could have found a good job, but instead I wanted to pursue the dream I've had since I was 10.

Wrestling isn't a huge spectator sport, and I knew I wasn't going to become rich from it. We do it for the competition and the potential glory. In America, we had high school and college wrestling; we are the only country that has; every other country has only the Olympics.

Young people in other countries use wrestling as a way to escape poor living conditions. In Russia and Iran, wrestling is pretty much the national sport. So, the magnitude of this decision did not only affect us -- it affected the world.


 

 

During the 2012 Olympics, wrestling was one of the hardest tickets to purchase. Every session was nearly sold out. There are millions of wrestlers all over the world, in 200-plus countries. More than 70 were countries represented in the Olympic Games. We are a diverse sport that young kids participate in everywhere -- all you need is a mat and some shoes; it doesn't take millions of dollars to pick up the sport.

As I near the end of my career in competitive wrestling at the age of 26, I see what the sport has done for me, it makes me hurt for the younger generations that may not get to chase their dream. Youngsters around the world grow up telling themselves they want to be an Olympic champion in 2020, and now this dream may be shattered.

Wrestlers are a tight-knit family. And we will fight to get wrestling reinstated for the 2020 Olympics. It won't matter where we are from or what differences our governments may have -- we'll fight together.

The International Olympics Committee will see how much the sport truly matters.

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