OREM, Utah - Utah wrestlers and coaches say they’re not giving up the Olympic gold without a fight.
Wrestlers from around the state are at UVU this week for the state high school wrestling championship tournament.
It comes just days after the International Olympic Committee announced they would pull wrestling as a medal event from the 2020 summer Olympic games.
“I was ticked,” says Beaver High wrestler Colt Evans. “I mean, the very first Olympics was who could run the fastest, who could throw the farthest and who could throw their opponent into the ground the quickest.”
The young athletes aren’t shy about their disapproval of the IOC’s decision. They say the Olympic games is something many draw inspiration from. Now they fear that inspiration will be taken for good.
“There’s a whole lot of people out there that still want to wrestle,” says Monticello High School wrestler Jake Giles. “They should be able to just like every one else out there in the Olympics has the opportunity to play their sport.”
The IOC regularly reviews events in terms of ticket sales, television ratings and overall popularity to see if the events are worth keeping in the games. Coaches say they’re ready to petition the IOC to get their spot back.
“We’re trained to battle, to work hard, to study hard,” says Craig LaMont, President of USA Wrestling Utah. “I think we’re going to pull something together.”
But if they don’t, wrestlers say it won’t change their love of the sport, or how hard they compete.
“I’ll still wrestle with all my heart,” says Beaver High School wrestler Carter Yardley. “Just keep on striving to do my best. There will always be more chances to wrestle.”
The IOC is set to meet in May to decide which sports they’ll consider for the empty spot. The final vote will come when the IOC meets again in September.