Olympic Preview: Wrestling
First Olympic Appearance: 1896 (Greco-Roman); 1904 (freestyle)
by John Gettings and Mark Zurlo
Did You Know?
Russia's Martin Klein wrestled Alfred Asikainen of Finland for 11 hours and 40 minutes in the semifinal round of the 1912 Stockholm Games.
No sport conjures up the traditional images of the Olympics quite like wrestling. Greco-Roman style wrestling is considered the world's oldest competitive sport and was the focus of the first modern Olympic Games in 1896. Although its popularity has waned since then, the rules and strategy of the sport have virtually remained the same.
The two styles of competition featured at the Summer Games differ only slightly. In the Greco-Roman competition wrestlers are not allowed to use their legs or attack their opponent's legs. In the freestyle competition wrestlers' legs are not considered off-limits.
The main objective in wrestling is to pin your opponent. This is achieved by holding their shoulder blades to the mat for about one-half second. This automatically ends the match. If neither wrestler is earns a pin, or fall, wrestlers earn points (awarded by referees) for certain maneuvers and holds. Each one-on-one bout consists of two three-minute rounds and the wrestler with the most points at the end of the match is the winner. There is a three-point minimum for the winner; otherwise an overtime period is played.
The London wrestling competition will award 18 different medal sets, with 14 men's events and four women's events. Women will only compete in the freestyle division and men will compete in both freestyle and Greco-Roman. The competition will be held at ExCel London, which can seat up to 10,000 people.