Daniel Igali (middle) became a Canadian Olympic hero when he won gold in Sydney. (Getty)When Daniel Igali won gold at the 2000 Sydney Summer Games he gave Canadians one of the most memorable moments in our home and native land’s Olympic history.
Igali was a true underdog story, having overcome an impoverished childhood in Nigeria to become one of only two Canadian athletes – Simon Whitfield being the other – to win gold in an individual sport in Sydney.
Unfortunately for Igali and the Canadian athletes who have followed him on the mat, wrestling will no longer be an Olympic sport come 2020. The International Olympic Committee stated in a shocking announcement Tuesday that wrestling would be eliminated from the Olympic program.
"We are deeply surprised by the recent recommendation of the IOC Executive Board IOC to withdraw the sport of wrestling from the Olympic Programme," Don Ryan, president of Wrestling Canada said in a statement. "Canada’s wrestling programs have been strong and successful at the international level, and posted strong results in the recent Games. We have a strong International Federation (FILA) and we will work closely with them as called upon to lobby and appeal to the IOC Members to reverse this decision that has yet to be ratified by the IOC."
Modern pentathlon was the sport many believed was potentially going to be removed, but instead the IOC decided to remove wrestling, a sport that has been part of the Olympics since 1896. Fellow Yahoo! Eh Game contributor Neate Sager points out that 71 countries competed in wrestling in London while only 26 countries did so in modern pentathlon. Sager also points out that wrestling has also been a leader among Olympic sports in gender equity.
That’s been duly noted on the home front. As a country Canada has won 14 medals overall in Olympic wrestling including two gold, six silver and eight bronze – Carol Huynh being the other gold medal winner doing so at the 2008 Games in Beijing. Huynh’s win kick-started Canada’s effort at those Summer Games.
Huynh and Tonya Verbeek were Canada’s two wrestling medalists in London, Huyhn grabbing bronze and Verbeek taking silver. Verbeek also won silver at the 2004 Games in Athens.
While Tuesday’s announcement mould mean a hit in the Canadian medal count at future Summer Games, it’s an even larger disappointment to a country like Russia who finished third in total medals at the London Games, 11 of those delivered by its wrestling team.
Huynh was among the many folks taking to Twitter following the head-shaking announcement.
— Carol Huynh (@HuynhCarol) February 12, 2013
Drug infested cycling, cheating badminton, boxing fiascos every Olympics and wrestling gets dumped. Want to see IOC explain this one — steve keating (@SNkeats) February 12, 2013
Not good for Canada!! IOC drops wrestling from 2020 Olympics soc.li/QYKxhhP
— Jackie Skender (@JackieSken) February 12, 2013