BY JOHN LUND
Wyoming County Press Examiner
Seven months after the Olympic Committee decided to drop wrestling as an Olympic sport starting in 2020, the IOC overturned its decision that many people thought was a mistake and reinstated wrestling back into the Games earlier this month.
The decision has made one long-time Wyoming County wrestling coach and referee incredibly pleased.
Frank Wadas, who coached Tunkhannock Area wrestling for 36 years up until 2005 and is a member of the Pennsylvania Wrestling State Hall of Fame, said he was caught by surprise by the original news but is happy to see how much support the sport of wrestling has.
“I think the decision is wonderful,” Wadas said. “On the one hand I expected it because there was pressure put on the committee not only by our country but by many others. It’s an even bigger sport outside of here so I think that really helped.”
The sport of wrestling received 49 votes in the first round of secret balloting held by the International Olympic Committee, beating out baseball/softball and squash, which got 24 and 22 votes.
The decision comes after months of campaigning by many different organizations to help save the Olympic status of the sport.
“People were upset because the Olympics is the ultimate goal for wrestlers,” Wadas said. “There aren’t the pro sports for wrestling like there are for say football or basketball. It might not matter to the average wrestler but it’s something to work toward for someone really into the sport.”
The sport of wrestling has shown overall growth throughout the country in recent years, and the decision to keep it in the Olympics is sure to help increase participation.
“The image of the sport was definitely helped by it,” Wadas said. “There were times years ago when you could easily sit in the front row on the day of major college or qualifying matches, but now programs are getting stronger.”
Wadas will continue to help promote wrestling on the local level at this year’s 36th Annual Kiwanis Wrestling Tournament on Dec. 27-28. The tournament will host its highest number of teams at 25.
“Our goal has always been that the great wrestlers will be challenged in the final rounds but an average wrestler has the chance to still medal,” Wadas said. “We want to have local participation and still bring out the competition from the schools that participate.”