Branstad Backs Group To "Keep Wrestling" in Olympics

By Chris Earl, Reporter

DES MOINES, Iowa - In a press conference that may have featured more statewide television cameras than his victory on Election Night in 2010, Governor Terry Branstad wore a blue t-shirt and tried to convince the IOC to return wrestling to the Summer Olympics.

"When the IOC voted by way of secret ballot to remove wrestling from the games in 2020, we felt that decision is short-sighted," Branstad said on Friday afternoon at the Wells Fargo Arena as the state wrestling tournament was in action.

Earlier this week, the International Olympic Committee announced wrestling would not be in the 2020 Summer Games. It will be included in the 2016 Olympics in Brazil.

The IOC chose to eliminate wrestling and keep the modern pentathlon. The Associated Press reported that an IOC document showed wrestling ranked low in several criteria, including popularity with the public at the recent 2012 Games in London.

In Des Moines, Branstad brought more mat muscle than political muscle to talk about this group, called "Let's Keep Wrestling." Olympic gold medalist and longtime Hawkeye coach Dan Gable, Olympic medalist and UI associate wrestling coach Terry Brands and UNI head coach and Olympic medalist Doug Schwab joined Branstad and Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds.

Gable, who won gold in 1972 before capturing 16 NCAA titles as a coach, talked about the business impact of keeping wrestling as an Olympic sport.

"Wrestling is good for the economy," Gable said. That's the bottom line here - it's that way here and all over the world. If you're good for the economy, you're going to survive."

This is especially true in Iowa. Carver-Hawkeye Arena was host to the 2012 Olympic Wrestling Trials last April, filling the seats during an otherwise quiet spring month.

Branstad also brought up the setting, looking above the busy Des Moines streets as students and families from all over Iowa walked into the area to watch the tournament.

"You see all the people driving downtown, all the buses, all the people here for the wrestling tournament. "

Brands, currently the associate head coach at Iowa with his brother, head coach Tom Brands, talked about how keeping wrestling as an Olympic sport provides that goal for kids to dream about when they pick up an interest in the sport.

The IOC's decision to drop wrestling is not a final one as the binding vote is scheduled for this September at the committee's meeting in Argentina.

Ever since the modern Games resumed in 1896, wrestling has been a part in every Olympiad except for 1900.
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