By Calvin Men, email@example.com
10:31 PM AKST, February 20, 2013
As a two-time defending national NCAA Division II wrestling champion, Matt Meuleners was planning to try out for the 2016 and 2020 Olympic teams.
But when he heard the sport would be dropped from the Olympics, he was disappointed.
"I was kind of upset and a little saddened by it," said Meuleners, 23, a wrestler at Northern State University. "Obviously, wrestling is the sport I love."
On Feb. 12, the Executive Board of the International Olympic Committee announced that it would drop wrestling from its 25 core sports for the Olympics. While still slotted for the 2016 games in Rio de Janeiro, wrestling will be off the roster for the 2020 games.
Wrestling has been placed into a group with seven other sports: baseball/softball, karate, roller sports, sports climbing, squash, wakeboarding and wushu. Representatives from the sports will make presentations to the executive board in May for inclusion in the 2020 games. Only one of the eight will be chosen.
Meuleners disagrees that wrestling wasn't a popular sport, saying it was difficult to find broadcasts of wrestling matches during the 2012 games.
"They said there was nobody watching it, but it wasn't accessible even to watch," said Meuleners, who tried to watch the matches in the summer.
Former Olympian Dennis Koslowski, a Doland-native who wrestled in the 1988 and 1992 games, expressed shock.
"I don't know what their logic is. There's hardly any country in the world that doesn't have a wrestling federation in it," said the former Olympian from his home in Minneapolis.
Bill Scherr, a Mobridge native who won a bronze medal in the 1988 games, was disappointed in the decision.
"The Olympics add a great deal to wrestling as does wrestling to the overall Olympic program," said Scherr, who lives in Glenview, Ill.
Scherr is also the chairman for the Committee for the Preservation of Olympic Wrestling. Scherr said the International Olympic Committee has tried to keep the games modern and that wrestling has not done well to keep up.
"It's not to say that wrestling isn't one of the greatest sports, but I don't think they've been good participants in the program," he said.
The decision to drop the sport has the potential to hurt wrestling's popularity.
"I believe that wrestling derives much of its popularity because it has the cache of being an Olympic sport," he said.
Scherr himself was inspired by watching American wrestler Dan Gable in the 1972 games.
"This clearly hurts the ability and attractiveness of the sport," he said.
Copyright © 2013, Aberdeen News