Wrestling holds world championships after IOC vote
BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — Having regained its Olympic status, wrestling will get its first chance to show off new scoring rules meant to make the sport more exciting when the world championships start Monday in Budapest.
Wrestling was surprisingly cut from the list of Olympic “core sports” in February but was voted back last weekend by the International Olympic Committee at a meeting in Buenos Aires.
Nenad Lalovic , president of the international wrestling federation FILA, said Sunday that the sport has “learned” from its brief exclusion and was introducing changes to become “one of the most interesting sports.”
He said the sport was trying to become more entertaining for casual fans, something he promised would be on display already at Monday’s opening presentation.
“We have a new product,” Lalovic told reporters at the Laszlo Papp Budapest Sport Arena. “You will see it (Monday). We intend to surprise the spectators with the new wrestling.”
Among the main rule changes made in the past months, bouts in the three disciplines — men’s Greco-Roman, men’s freestyle and women’s freestyle — will consist of two three-minute rounds instead of three two-minute rounds. Scoring will be cumulative through the two rounds, as opposed to earlier when each round was scored separately. Also, more points will be awarded for attacking moves and there will be no overtime. If there is a tie, the last wrestler to score a point will win.
Some of the changes are meant to encourage a more aggressive style of wrestling and to make it easier for spectators to understand the points system.
Lalovic said feedback from the wrestlers about the new scoring system had been “fantastic,” as it rewards action over defense.
“They are satisfied. They have started to wrestle again and they like to wrestle,” Lalovic said.
Lalovic said the effects of new rules were most evident in Greco-Roman wrestling, where scoring has increased 171 percent in recent tournaments and results like 20-18 were not uncommon.
While there are seven weight categories in each discipline at the world championships, competition at the Olympics will be in six categories per discipline.
Lalovic said FILA will decide which weight classes will be used at the Olympics by the end of October.
On the mats, American Jordan Burroughs, the defending Olympic and world champion, will be trying to extend his streak of 60 consecutive victories in the freestyle 74-kilogram category. The Japanese women’s team, which won three of the four medals at stake at the 2012 London Olympics, is also expected to dominate in Budapest.
Hungary is hosting the world championships for the fifth time since 1958. The event ends next Sunday.