Via The Victory Formation:
There aren’t many that have agreed with the dismissal of wrestling from the Summer Olympics, and while many have voiced their displeasure, nobody has taken drastic action. That was until legendary Bulgarian wrestler Valentin Yordanov decided to return his gold medal from the Olympic Games in Atlanta.
The Bulgarian Olympic hero is currently the president of the Bulgarian wrestling federation, and is a 10-time World Champion as well as the gold medal winner from the 1996 Games. He is completely dismayed by IOC’s decision to eliminate wrestling with the possibility of being replaced by a non-traditional Olympic event. Here is what he wrote in a letter to the president of IOC:
“As a sign of protest I am returning my gold medal, won at the Olympic Games in Atlanta in 1996, to the headquarters of the International Olympic Committee in Lausanne.”
Yordanov went on to say the following:
“With this act I express my solidarity with the millions of athletes and fans of our sport who are condemning the recommendation of the IOC. Our sport is an integral part of the Olympic movement and one of the foundations of both the ancient and modern Olympics.”
Bulgaria has a lot to lose if wrestling is eliminated. The country is 24th in the all-time Olympic medal count, with the bulk of its success on the mat. Bulgaria has won 16 gold medals in the Olympics. That’s nearly a one third of their gold-medal count since the first Olympic Games in 1896. Bulgaria has competed in most of the Olympic competitions since its inception. Wrestling has been in an event in all the Games.
In addition to Yordanov’s proteset, Bulgarian Greco-Roman wrestling coach national team coach Armen Nazarian is considering a hunger strike. Nazarian is a two-time wrestling champ for the country.
Probably the best line from Yordanov came at the expense of IOC president Jacques Rogge.
“He unreservedly united Russia, the United States and Iran for a single cause – saving the sport of wrestling, without which the Olympics will never be the same,”
Actions like Yordanov’s, as well as the recent groundswell of support from others may play a major role in having wrestling reinserted into the Olympic lineup. However, it will more likely come down to dollars and cents, just as most decisions in this day and age.