Memo to the International Olympic Committee on the heels of a preliminary vote to drop wrestling at the 2020 Olympics: You’ve got a fight on your hands.
Dan Gable, arguably the most iconic American name in the sport, vowed to work at changing the decision before a final vote in September.
“The thing is, because of wrestling, I have a mindset that is strong. Exceptionally strong,” Gable said today. “I don’t believe in the four-letter word ‘quit.’ I don’t believe in the four-letter word ‘can’t.’
“Right now, I’m not going to change because I see an initial vote. I’m not going to quit. I’m going to fight.”
The IOC entered a vote to trim one sport from the current list of 26.
Wrestling was voted out from a final group that also included modern pentathlon, taekwondo and field hockey, officials familiar with the vote told The Associated Press. They spoke on condition of anonymity because the voting details were not made public.
The final vote will occur at the IOC’s general assembly in September in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Mark Adams, IOC spokesperson said “today’s decision is not final” — though reversing course so soon would be considered an upset by many who know the organization.
Gable, a national champion at Iowa State and record-setting coach at Iowa, recorded one of the most dominant Olympic performances in history — regardless of sport — when he won a freestyle wrestling gold medal in 1972, without surrendering a single point.
“They said usually when it gets voted, they don’t come back and reverse it,” he said, “but it’s not over yet.”
Wrestling is among the oldest sports offered at the Olympics. It was part of the ancient games, and was contested at the first modern Olympics in 1896 in Athens, Greece.
“It’s not like you have a sport like baseball, that has a pro baseball league that’s outstanding — so kids can dream of going places beyond the educational system,” Gable said. “So that kind of eliminates the high end for us. You continue to have world championships, but it’s tainted big-time if you don’t have the Olympics behind your sport.
“Obviously, you’re not done, though, and you keep fighting.”