Oregon State wrestler Mike Mangrum was in the locker room on Tuesday morning when he heard the news.
The International Olympic Committee’s executive board voted to recommend the elimination of wrestling from the Olympics, starting in 2020.
“I obviously couldn’t believe it,” Mangrum, a senior, said. “If you’re going to cut wrestling out of the Olympics you might as well cut running and weightlifting and stuff like that, the ones that have been there for a really long time. It’s kind of like a staple in the Olympic Games.”
Wrestling has roots in the ancient Olympics, making the news all the more shocking.
It was part of the 1896 games in Athens that marked the beginning of the modern era Olympic Games.
OSU coach Jim Zalesky said wrestling, swimming, gymnastics, and track and field are among the sports that typically come to mind when people think of the Olympics.
“If you want to have the modern Games, go ahead and have them, but you’ve got to keep your traditional sports,” Zalesky said. “What made the Olympics was these sports like wrestling, that’s going way back to the days in Greece.”
The board reviewed the 26 summer Olympic sports for the vote.
Modern pentathlon survived the cut.
Wrestling will now have to fight it out with seven sports, including wakeboarding, sport climbing and squash, for a spot in the 2020 Olympics.
Participation around the world, ticket sales and TV ratings were among the criteria considered.
“I personally think it’s just about money,” Mangrum said.
“Instead of looking at the legend, they’re just looking at, ‘How can we make our wallets bigger? How can we get more paychecks?’”