Despite being one of the oldest events in the Olympics Games, wrestling had to wage an uphill battle to regain a spot in the quadrennial summer games.
Nasir Wilkinson, 11, is passionate about the sport and told the AFRO he hopes to compete nationally one day.
He may get the opportunity. The sport was originally dropped from the games in February, but following a chorus of opposition to the decision, the International Olympics Committee (IOC) on Sept. 8 restored the sport for the 2020 and 2024 games.
The move to drop wrestling, which has been in every modern Olympics since the inaugural 1896 Athens Games except 1900, reflected the IOC’s efforts to attract younger fans. But the move encountered stiff opposition, some of it from young athletes.
““They can’t hold us down,” Nasir said recently. Even though the IOC Executive Board had dropped the sport Feb. 12, he remained enthusiastic about the sport.
He even participated in a rally in Georgia in August during which the call for a restoration of wrestling drew full-throated support.
Such rallies were common throughout the athletic world in the wake of the Feb. 12 IOC decision to drop wrestling, along with .several other competitions from its list of core sports for the 2016 Olympics Games.
The IOC decided it would limit the Games to 28 sports, and roughly 10,500 athletes and about 300 events.
But after wrestling enthusiasts waged a campaign to restore the sport, an effort orchestrated by USA Wrestling and other international wrestling sanctioning bodies.
The advocacy resulted in wrestling, along with squash, baseball and softball, gaining an opportunity to make a case for inclusion. The opportunity was granted by the IOC board in May.
After wrestling made its case before the board, the IOC decided Sept. 8 it would limit the Games to 28 sports, and roughly 10,500 athletes and about 300 events, restoring wrestling for the 2020 and 2024 Olympic games.
On the first vote, wrestling received 49 votes out of the 95 voters, receiving the majority of votes and winning on the first ballot.
“This is a great day for wrestling,” USA Wrestling President James Ravannack said. “As a family, we showed our pride in wrestling, and have helped tell the story of our sport to the IOC and to the world.”