Local wrestlers upset about Olympic decision

Posted at: 02/13/2013 11:39 AM
Updated at: 02/13/2013 12:01 PM
By: Beth Wurtmann

CLIFTON PARK - Students on the Shenendehowa varsity wrestling team are proud of their big Section 2 win at last weekend's tournament.

But students said it was devastating to then learn that the sport will be dropped from the Olympics in 2020.

"It's disapointing, you know. It's everyone's dream being an Olympic champ," said Nick Kelley, a senior wrestler.

The International Olympic Committee said it made the decision after considering criteria like popularity, ticket sales and finances.

"This is not a case of what's wrong with wrestling. It is what's right with the 25 core sports. And that, I think, is the way that we, as the IOC, will look at it," said IOC Spokesman Mark Adams.

The announcement also came as a shock to Joe DeMeo, who coached the late wrestling star Jeff Blatnick of Niskayuna, who won the gold medal in the 1984 games.

"It's unbelievable that they would take a sport that's got such tradition, such a history," DeMeo said.

Wrestling will be reconsidered for the 2020 games along with seven other sports that are applying -- including baseball and softball, squash, sport climbing and karate.

But for wrestlers like Shen student Alexis Porter, who is already a woman's freestyle two time national champion, it's bleak.

"You can honestly say it was a realistic dream for me. To hear the news, honestly, it makes me sick to my stomach. I'm heartbroken. I couldn't even believe it when I heard it," she said.

Their coach said they will try to mount a challenge.

"The Olympics in wrestling is our highest aspiration.  There's no NBA. There's no professional baseball for the sport of wrestling for the small percent of students that get to that level. That's a devastating blow for them," said Rob Weeks, Shen's head wrestling coach.