Dan Gable agreed to supply the Register an open letter about Tuesday’s news that the IOC had voted to remove wrestling from the 2020 Olympics. His text is below:
A wrestler stands alone on the mat, awaiting his or her opponent. Teammates are on the side of the mat, fans are in the stands, coaches and even cheerleaders cheering the competitor on.
The wrestler on the mat is focused on the performance that is about to happen. He or she needs inner strength — a strength that has been determined by all the preparation done to date. The preparation that was coordinated, instructed, led and influenced by all those people mat side — training partners, coaches, parents, friends, boosters and all of the others that help prepare to make the wrestler ready. He or she stands alone, but they’re not alone. It takes a TEAM to get ready to perform at the highest level.
The executive committee of the International Olympic Committee cast its first vote to drop a world-wide and historic sport — wrestling. In doing so, someone stood alone. No single person, entity or group can do what is needed to move forward. It will take teamwork with many individuals, including people and organizations, working together for maximum gain.
In the United States, we have some examples that show how good teamwork creates results. The addition of 80-plus college wrestling programs to a once dwindling number is just one. High school wrestling has added more than 40,000 individual competitors in recent years. Women’s wrestling is the fastest growing sport percentage-wise in the last few years — from 200 individuals to nearly 7,000. These numbers came together because of teamwork.
Freedom across the world is a result of many individuals working together and forming teams that then work together. Many of those who have paid the ultimate price for freedom have come through the wrestling ranks. We need to honor them and win this decision to have wrestling — the world’s oldest sport — remain a part of the most prestigious athletic completion in the world, the Olympics.
Wrestling organizations like FILA must work together with the executives on the IOC to help make important information available. It takes a team — yet we apparently are standing alone, thinking we are strong. We, as a wrestling community, better remember it is more than one individual that makes a winner. I never won anything by myself.
I was always strong because of help that gave me extra strength to win.
If we don’t stop standing alone, I mean really alone, we will be alone with no one to wrestle.
ABOUT DAN GABLE
Dan Gable is considered the most iconic name in American wrestling. He won state titles in Waterloo, Iowa, before competing at Iowa State — where his only college loss came in his final match.
In 1972, Gable recorded one of the most remarkable feats in Olympic history by winning a gold medal without surrendering a point. He went on to become one of the winningest coaches in NCAA history at the University of Iowa and was inducted into the FILA international hall of fame at the 2012 Olympics in London.