Penfield, N.Y. --- Tuesday the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced that the sport of wrestling will be dropped as one of the 25 “core sports” that compete in the Olympics effective in 2020.
It was widely believed that modern pentathlon (a mix of shooting, horseback riding, fencing, running, and swimming) would be the sport most likely to be eliminated. The secret ballot vote included several rounds of voting and the results are not released to the public.
Wrestling has remained a part of every modern Olympic Games since 1896 and is considered by many to be the among the first competed athletic events with roots in the ancient Greek games.
"When I first heard the news I was sad, disappointed, and now I'm to a point where I'm starting to get a little angry about the scenario,” said Penfield High School head coach John Leone. “Because you look at the youth and the kids that have set goals that will want to be Olympic Champions some day.”
This year Leone coaches one of the few youngsters who not only has a desire to one day compete in the Olympics, but also the ability to make that dream a reality.
“He actually would like to be an Olympic Gold Medalist in 2020 and I think it could happen if that's something he wants to do,” Leone said of seventh-grader Frankie Gissendanner who wrestles at the 126-pound weight class.
This year Gissendanner won the Monroe County Championships, Section V Championship, Super-Sectionals Championship, and is on his way to compete in the New York State Championships later this month.
"I can't too big-headed about myself, I can't get too big and cocky I just got to think about myself, just getting there and show what I got. Doesn't matter what grade I am (or) how old I am,” Gissendanner said.
Gissendanner is among the many young grapplers who looks up to Jordan Burroughs who won a Gold Medal for USA Wrestling in the 2012 Olympic Games. This past year Coach Leone used that as motivation and presented Gissendanner with DVD of Burroughs’ Olympic matches.
"I had the DVD copied off of the Olympic Games and put on it ‘Frankie Gissendanner 2020 and 2024 Olympic Gold Medalist’ and I think that's part of his dream right now,” Coach Leone said.
“For so many years now I mean Olympics is my thing,” Gissendanner said while admitting he’s trying to stay focused on his sport and not let the IOC’s decision get him down.
Already the wrestling community around the world has united forces in the hopes of urging the IOC to at least reconsider this decision, if not reverse that decision.