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The Junior & Cadet Nationals, the world’s biggest wrestling tournament, was held on 23 mats on July 13-20 in Fargo, N.D. Continued from page 5

Vice President of the French Wrestling Federation, was next. “I am here to speak to you about one of the greatest loves of my life, wrestling. Wrestling is probably not a girl’s first choice and it was the same for me. I went into wrestling thanks to my father and uncle, who were wrestlers. Once I started, there was no going back. I loved wrestling because it made me feel like a trailblazer in the world of sports. There were fewer women wrestlers at the time, and this made me feel unique and proud, a feeling which has never left me,” said LeGrand. Daniel Igali, an Olympic champion for Canada and now presi- dent of the Nigerian Wrestling Federation, had a compelling story to tell.

“When I was in grade five in my native Nigeria, one of my

nation’s first Olympic wrestlers came to my school to speak about his experiences at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. He spoke about the city, the Games and the fact that he had to fly on an airplane for hours to get there. As a 10 year old, the only thing I remember from his visit is that going to the Olympics would give me an opportunity to fly on an airplane. 16 years later, when I achieved my Olympic dream and stepped into the Olympic arena in Sydney, I smiled at that memory. Now I know the Olympics and my sport means much more than that. As one of 20 siblings growing up in a very poor Nigerian village, I can tell you that if I didn’t learn how to wrestle well, I may not have gotten very much to eat. In a very real way, wrestling taught me how to survive,” said Igali.

Another example of how wrestling affects lives was shared by Olympic champion and two-time Olympic medalist Carol Huynh of Canada.

“I am an Olympian. I am Chinese Canadian and a woman but most of all, I am a wrestler. Being a wrestler makes you rise to challenges, you are tough minded and maybe just a little bit stubborn. That is why we are here today. We don’t give up easi- ly, Some of these traits I also picked up from my parents. 35 years ago, my parents were refugees, and when they came to Canada, their simple goal was creating a better life for their fam- ily. But I don’t think they dreamed that their example would lead me back to China for a gold medal, and to London for a bronze,” said Huynh. Also part of the dynamic presentation were two fantastic

6 USA Wrestler

videos, showing the power, passion and excitement of wrestling. The team answered a number of questions from members of the IOC at the end of their segment.

It was time to vote, as 95 IOC members went to a private bal-

lot. Then came the moment of truth as IOC President Jacques Rogge read the results from the balloting. 48 votes were need- ed for a majority. “With 49 votes, Wrestling has been elected.” All of the hard work and effort had paid off. On the first vote, wrestling received 49 votes out of the 95 voters, receiving the majority of votes and winning on the first ballot. The wrestling delegation in Buenos Aires jumped up in joy, celebrating its first-ballot victory which restored wrestling place on the Olympic program for 2020 and 2024. Wrestlers and fans worldwide joined in celebration, many who were watching the vote on a live webcast provided by the IOC on its website. “This is a great day for wrestling and for USA Wrestling. As a sport and an organization, we came together like never before to support the sport we love. I want to thank all who helped our cause, especially those from USA Wrestling state organizations and our grassroots community. You all have stepped up, with fundraising efforts, online activities, attendance at our big events and so many other important things. As a family, we showed our pride in wrestling, and have helped tell the story of our sport to the IOC and to the world,” said USA Wrestling President James Ravannack.

“Now the work really starts for wrestling. We need to capital- ize on the opportunity which we have received and continue to move the sport forward. Momentum is on our side. We must continue to be passionate and aggressive in promoting and improving wrestling in the United States and around the world. We also want to thank everybody from the U.S. wrestling com- munity who has stepped up to support the Keep Olympic Wrestling movement,” said USA Wrestling Executive Director Rich Bender. “We are thrilled with the IOC decision today. Wrestling has been a significant part of the ancient and modern Olympics and we are pleased to be on the program for 2020 and 2024. The IOC has been fair and encouraging to us and we believe that there will be opportunities for us to again be one of the core

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