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Wrestling with elimination

Posted at: 02/18/2013 5:28 PM
By: Robin De Wind

Wrestling has been part of the Olympics since the very beginning, now the International Olympic Committee is giving serious thought to eliminating wrestling from Olympic competition in 2020.

Rick Suhr is the husband and coach of Olympic gold medalist Jenn Suhr, but before he became a world class pole vaulting coach, he was a state champion wrestler. He is speaking out about wrestling being dropped from the Olympic games.

Rick Suhr, Olympic coach, said, “Ulysses S. Grant, Eisenhower  and Lincoln wrestled, John McCain wrestled the influence it has is incredible.”

Rick Suhr, known to most people as the man behind Olympic Gold medalist Jenn Suhr, was a star on the wrestling mat before he moved to pole vault and coaching. He calls wrestling the greatest influence in his life.

Suhr said, “My ability to deal with things day to day, the mental toughness just how I learned to adjust and achieve things, it was the greatest influence in my life was being in a wrestling room in that sport.”

Suhr and his brother, John, were state champion wrestlers and despite coaching his wife to a gold medal win in London, he fondly recalls the moment he came a state champion wrestler as his greatest accomplishment.

News that the IOC wants to eliminate this traditional Olympic sport came as a shock. Suhr blames poor marketing on a national level and changes to how matches at the high school level are decided, for why the sport has slipped out of the public eye.

Suhr said, “If it gets eliminated then effects it's college programs and high schools . Then it will have an effect on our role models. That's where I point to the marketing. There has to be a grassroots effort starting in Section V. We have to start marketing the sport better.”

Suhr disagrees with the IOC's opinion that wrestling lacks global popularity. It continues to be a national sport in many countries. The Suhrs were housed with the U.S. Wrestling team in London and opted to stay in London after their win to watch the wrestling events.

Suhr said, “It seems like it was a knee jerk quick reaction. I have faith in the IOC. I think they will bring it back, it is too popular . The participation is so big to have Olympic games without wrestling.”

While wrestling was removed from the list of 25 “core sports”, canoeing, equestrian and table tennis were among the events still considered “core sports”. Wrestling still could be revived, with the IOC, in 2020, but it is unlikely. Suhr is hoping public pressure will impact the IOC's final decision