Rep. Bob Dettmer (R-Forest Lake) has drafted a House resolution asking the International Olympic Committee to reconsider its decision to stop recognizing wrestling as an Olympic sport beginning in 2020.
Dettmer says the resolution has gained support of numerous colleagues in the state legislature.
“Wrestling is a cherished tradition in Minnesota and many in our state, including me, have personal ties to the sport,” Dettmer said. “As a competitor in the 1972 Olympic trials, I know first-hand that Minnesota has strong ties to the games each year they are held. I hope the IOC will reconsider the decision.”
As a mother of three young wrestlers and the Wrestling Commissioner for the St. Croix Valley Athletic Association, Natalie Riesselman agrees.
“It is very frustrating to see wrestling be taken out of the Olympics,” she said. “It’s a sport foreign to many, but once you’ve been exposed to it, it is hard to deny the benefits that such a sport can provide to any athlete. We see how this sport not only builds athletes, but also self-confidences, self-restraint, and self-reliance. It is a sport unlike any other.”
This year Stillwater’s youth wrestling program had more than 100 kids participate, Riesselman said. In the past several years Stillwater has set records with State medalist, as well as National medalists
“It is a sport that any person — regardless of their size, geographical location, economic status, and gender — can compete in,” she said. “There aren’t many other sports that you can say that about.”
As a former Olympic hopeful and wrestling coach for Forest Lake High School from 1975-2007, Dettmer said wrestling is “near and dear to my heart” and he is proud wrestlers across the country are rallying in support against the IOC’s recommendations.
“Some may view this as a step backwards for the sport,” Riesselman said, “but I hope that instead it will shine a light on it and people will begin to understand it and see the value in it. This decision by the IOC will not bring us down, but rather fuel our fire to become bigger and better.”