Mizzou Wrestling Glad Olympics to Keep Sport
COLUMBIA - When the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced back in February that it decided to drop wrestling from the 2020 Olympics, the decision did not sit well with the MU wrestling coaching staff.
Head coach Brian Smith and his assistants helped campaign for wrestling to stay in the games, and on Sunday the IOC agreed with the wrestling community, and put wrestling back in the games after the seven month absence.
While being back in the Olympics means a great deal to the entire wrestling community, it has tremendous impact at MU.
Smith said his teams at MU have a long history of Olympic competition. Recently, for star MU wrestler Dom Bradley represented the United States in 2012 at the London games. Now, Smith is helping Bradley at MU's Olympic training center to prepare for the 2016 games.
Assistant Coach Sammie Henson said many recruits come to wrestle for the Tigers because of MU's ability to train and help wrestlers make it to the Olympics. He said without that, many college wrestlers might lose motivation, and the sport as a whole would suffer.
Henson, a former Tiger wrestler and silver medalist at the 2000 games, said kids come to MU with a dream of winning a gold medal. He said that dream of winning Olympic medals and representing his country helped him choose MU years ago, and made him a better wrestler.
Wrestling was one of the original Olympic sports at the first modern Olympics in 1896, but Smith said the reasons to keep the sport in the games extends beyond its history. He said wrestling is like a physical chess match, combining high levels of intelligence and athleticism in ways that no other sport does.