As the results of a secret vote were about to be announced more than 5,600 miles away, Dan Gable and Kevin Jackson experienced feelings that reminded them of competing and coaching in the sport of wrestling.
When the International Olympic Committee announced wrestling had beaten out baseball-softball and squash for the single remaining spot in the 2020 and ’24 Games, Gable’s confidence gave way to relief.
“It was almost like I started to have this feeling of anxiety, I started to have this feeling where I could break down a little bit like eternal joy,” said Gable, the legendary college coach at Iowa who won a freestyle wrestling gold medal in 1972. “(But) it was almost like our people did such a good job, I expected to hear, ‘Wrestling.’ ”
If baseball-softball or squash had been selected, Gable said the impact on him would have been profound.
“If it wouldn’t have went that way, then I would have been jolted pretty heavily,” he said.
Iowa State coach Kevin Jackson, a 1992 gold medalist who coached the U.S. freestyle team at the Olympics in 2004 and ’08 said the sport needs to remain diligent.
“I hope we don’t say, ‘Whew’ — but keep moving forward,” he said. “This created a platform. We got more media attention from being dropped from the program, than any time in history. What do we do with that?”
Jackson said the potential impact of wrestling losing its Olympic status after the 2016 Games would have impacted participation — even among U.S. college programs.
“I think it would trickle down to every level,” he said. “It would have had a devastating effect.
Check back later today for more coverage at DesMoinesRegister.com — and find a comprehensive wrap-up in Monday’s Des Moines Register.