Olympic Notes

By | August 26, 2016

Maryland On The Move

Besides being known for blue crabs, rock fish and black-eyed susans, Maryland can now claim to be the home of Olympic Champions. That’s important to the state because before Rio the only thing Maryland could say with regard to wrestling was it bordered on Pennsylvania.

Now it has two larger than life heroes.

Helen Maroulis; what a story, what a lady. She became the first woman in United States history to win an Olympic Championship in freestyle wrestling by shocking Japan’s Saori Yoshida, a thirteen time World Champion and three-time Olympic Gold Medalist.

When the final buzzer sounded she cried tears of joy, then she cried again on the medal stand as she sang the national anthem and together with the American flag over her head we cried with her.

Helen you are simply the best. The way you handled yourself throughout the years is an inspiration to us all. We’ve loved watching you mature and your passion for the sport is obvious.

Kyle Snyder; won and done, cool, focused, a man on a mission. You never stop pushing, reaching, creating, striving, persisting or dreaming.  Your performance was simply brilliant.

Never have I watched any of our champion’s march their way through the competition like you did. Elbows at your side, feet always moving, precise attacks and counters, never out of position, never a momentary loss of composure.

And most important of all, both of you are better people than you are wrestlers . . . and that speaks to the job your parents did and the choices you continually make.

Well done.

Changing Channels

I believe Ryan Lochte owes more than USA Swimming an apology. He single handily stole headlines from every Gold Medalist and their country after receiving his day in the sun as a competitor. Just as unforgiving was the way NBC and their affiliates handled the controversy.

Even today, 72 hours after the closing ceremonies and a week after the incident itself we are still being forced to ride Lochte’s shame train. Enough already. NBC wanted the story of the 4 swimmers who said they were robbed at gunpoint to be true. They wanted the ratings that such a scandal would produce. They wanted to validate what many were thinking; that a once proud and beautiful city was no longer deserving of such an exclusive event.

Granted, all was not perfect in Rio but what Games are? With millions of moving parts and with every event cycle locations and administrations change there’s going to be cracks, there’s going to be black holes not to mention a few oops’. But given Brazil is financially reeling as a result of falling oil prices and political scandals, the city still pulled it off and the event was something to watch.

In the meantime no one outside of wrestling could possibly understand what an amazing feat Helen accomplished and the odds that Kyle overcame to become the youngest American to ever win an Olympic Gold in our sport. NBC certainly didn’t. Both narratives of sacrifice, humility and triumph should have been lead stories for the network. But given that neither athlete urinated behind some building or lied to the police, those outside of wrestling will never know of their remarkable achievements.

Note to every media outlet . . . for Kyle to be the best in the world at the age of 20, that’s comparable to becoming boxing’s undisputed Heavyweight Champion of the World at the same age or the All-Around Champion in gymnastics at 12 . . . neither of which has ever occurred.

As for Helen, all she did with a little girl’s smile and enormous heart was the equivalent of besting Michael Phelps an hour after upsetting Usain Bolt.

On a different take, I wonder how NBC would have handled the Lochte story had it been 4 wrestlers instead of swimmers. Fortunately we won’t know because I can’t imagine our best putting themselves in that position.

As to the media coverage we received in general . . . remember it wasn’t that long ago we were thrown out of the Olympics. NBC was just taking their lead from the IOC . . . “if leadership doesn’t care about wrestling, why should we?” Unfortunately this snubbing and our continual fall from grace is just the tip of the iceberg regarding how people feel about our sport. And until our leadership sees fit to make significant changes in their attitude and the way they choose to administer wrestling, their myopic viewpoints and stubbornness will prove Darwin’s theory to be correct.

It’s all a matter of how quickly the UWW can clean up their image of corruption and make the sport spectator friendly and exciting. In the absence of those changes, wrestling is not going to make it past 2020.

6 thoughts on “Olympic Notes

  1. Jim

    Nice article. Mike Tyson won his first title at 20 years 4 months though.

    1. Wade Schalles

      He wasn’t the undisputed Heavyweight Champion. Spinks was at 21.

  2. Pete Ferraro

    As always, spot on. What did you think about the officiating at the Olympics?

    1. Wade Schalles

      As good or bad as you might think depending upon what country received the hosing? The rules are designed to make it impossible for the fans to follow so the leadership of the UWW can decide who wins when they want to based on political IOU’s or revenue inducements; without being too obvious. The same holds true for the bracketing. It’s actually the rules that are flawed, they allow the referees to be too involved because currently everything centers on scoring as little as possible to win.

      1. Neil Kiernan

        Wade, this would be one of the reasons that we hesitate to do put as much energy into Freestyle as we did before. The rules are annoying. And as much as people say it supposedly improves your Folkstyle, your bottom game in Folkstyle withers during Freestyle season. And the top game of Freestyle is useless in Folkstyle for the most part.

        1. Wade Schalles

          The only way freestyle helps folkstyle wrestlers is its better to wrestle than not and if the local freestyle event is the only tournament in your area, then by all means go. Mat time is mat time. The notion that international wrestling helps folkstyle is a myth created by USAWrestling to improve their bottom line and responsibility of being the National Governing Body. You don’t improve your game of tennis by competing in badminton just because it’s a racket sport. You don’t become a better sprinter by competing in the hurdles even though they are both running events. And becoming proficient in 3 meter diving does little for your 1 meter springboard capabilities although both are diving. If you’re serious about either style, stick with that style and become the best you can at it.


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