OSU Celebrates Reinstatement Of Wrestling

STILLWATER - Just before the IOC Executive Committee Meeting in Buenos Aires announced wrestling would be returning to the Olympics in 2020, former Oklahoma State wrestler Lee Roy Smith was standing in front of an audience introducing several Southmoore High School wrestlers. Smith was presenting checks to help with their recovery as the wrestler's families lost their homes in the May tornado.

The money was welcomed as relief efforts continue. The IOC vote shown by satellite from Buenos Aires was also welcomed as it will give Jio and Robert Martinez and Wes Oliver reason to dream of Olympic glory, the highest aspiration of a wrestler.

"We needed to and we are core to the Olympic movement," said Smith. "We are a core soul mate to the Olympic games. I can't tell you how many people came up to me that weren't associated with wrestling but were associated with the Olympics and they were shocked.

"There was good reason for them to put us on notice and we have taken action. We have reorganized and it will mean more opportunity for females in wrestling and a more exciting event that is for the fans and not just for the participants. The rule changes make it more authentic with the result in the hands of the wrestlers.

"(In) 2020 and 2024, you are talking about kids that are 10 years old that can dream that dream," said Smith. "That is the Olympics they will have an opportunity at now."

Former Cowboy wrestler and Olympic bronze medalist Coleman Scott said he felt like he had wrestled in a match this morning. The process of the presentation headed by FILA (wrestling's international governing body) President Nenad Lalovic and Jim Scherr, former USA wrestler and ex-CEO of the U.S. Olympic Committee, and then the vote was emotionally and mentally draining.

"That was harder than a wrestling match for me," added Scott. "It's been a long process and after they accepted the recommendation to drop us this morning I didn't know how they were going to come back and vote us back in. We had a good presentation and panel that we picked and I though Daniel Igali (Nigerian wrestler and leader of the Nigerian Wrestling Federation) was one of the best speakers that we had."

Wrestling was the last sport to present and after answering seven questions and comments from members of the IOC the vote was quickly conducted.

A majority of the 95 delegates had to vote to include wrestling, and 49 did on the first ballot. The sport now remains in the Olympic Games for 2020 (Tokyo) and 2024 (TBD).

"This next Olympics will probably be my last go round," said Scott, who is coming off an injury with a torn pectoral muscle. "Now I can coach kids to be Olympians.

"We have a number of kids in the room that have aspirations and 2020 will be in their path. Now maybe I can coach them toward that. It is about the youth and we've saved the dream for all those young wrestlers in our sport."

"February 12 the IOC voted us off and five months later those same individuals voted us back on," said Cowboys two-time gold medal winning former wrestler and head coach John Smith. "Why, the roar of the world? They were vocal and quickly put us back on the program as one of the sports that will move forward.

"The thing is that when I competed in the Olympics there were 13,200 athletes, and the sad thing is in the last games their were 10,000. Hopefully, they'll see the movement and go in the other direction. Baseball and softball should be in the Olympics and hopefully, soon they will be."

"The thing that sat deepest with me, and I know that Robert just asked my son some questions, is we all have children in our lives and youth in our lives. Some of us have children that compete in wrestling and you want that opportunity there for them. You want the opportunity to embrace the Olympics if they chose that dream and to strive for that in life.

"It's great that their sport has that pinnacle. In Olympic wrestling, it's like getting that doctorate and you embrace the sport and culture and travel the world and you meet people from the Islamic Republic of Iran, Russia, Chechnya, and Dagestan, and North Korea and you come together in fellowship, friendship, and the celebration of sport. That is an education you can't get on a college campus and the collegiate version of the sport."

Ishmael Guerrero, the young son of Cowboys wrestling assistant head coach Eric Guerrero, is a wrestler. This vote gives him a chance to follow in his father's footsteps to dream and possibly achieve some day the opportunity to wrestle on the sports biggest stage in the Olympics.

"When I heard it I'm pretty sure the other sports were sad, but I know it gives wrestlers a lot of options," said a wise beyond his years youngster. "I'm very happy wrestling is in the Olympics."

That's pretty nice when even an elementary student understands how important this vote was, and inclusion and not seclusion is the way sports, and the way the world should be. Wrestling was taught a lesson and, now just as quickly, has turned the situation around to pass on a lesson.

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