Purdue has provided the United States with some astounding wrestling talent throughout the years. It has a long-standing tradition in the sport, and has produced Olympic talent time and again. However, even the old guard of the sport now realize the wake-up call that was provided by temporary removal of the sport from the next olympic games.
“I think wrestling has to use this as a big momentum swing for potential fans and marketing,” head coach Scott Hinkel said. “You don’t get complacent with it and just think ‘oh, we’re good to go.’ It’s like ‘hey, you’re not good to go.’”
Wrestling received 49 votes during the curiously secretive ballot process by the International Olympic Committee in September, as wrestling beat out both squash and a baseball/softball effort to make the games in 2020.
“I was in awe over it,” said Purdue volunteer wrestling coach Tommy Churchard. “I think it was a real shock to people who follow international competition … (wrestling) was one of the building blocks of the Olympics, so I think it shocked a lot of people.”
The moment wrestling was dropped from the Olympics it became headline news, as the sport is literally one of the first events ever held in the games.
“I think a lot of people that are passionate about the sport really pushed for it,” Churchard said. “So the more media coverage we got, the better our chances were to get reinstated, and it worked out in our favor.”
“Everybody had some skin in it, if you will,” Hinkel said. “It didn’t mean it was the end of the wrestling per se, but I think the whole wrestling world understood what it would mean if it was lost from the Olympics.”
Hinkel also noted that he does not know the negative effect of the drop out of the games, but hopes most stayed active in the interest for the sport during the uncertain times.
“I don’t know (what would have happened); we don’t want to find out, but I think over time it would have had a negative effect on it,” Hinkel said. “That’s really the pinnacle of our sport is to be able to wrestle and win a gold medal. I think we would have saw the sport take a hit immediately and probably down the road as well.”
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