(WICHITA, Kan.)—Wrestling has been a part of the Olympic games from the beginning, but that will change in 2020. The International Olympic Committee removed wrestling from the approved list of sports. A decision that devastates those who spend their life on the mat.
Heights Head Coach Michael Church pushes his wrestlers to be the best. Church says, "I just think it's something that will prepare them for anything else in their life."
His students Armond McCray and Sean Deshazer work constantly to reach their goals of winning state, a college scholarship, and someday representing the country at the Olympics. The commitment can be grueling. McCray says, "We've been doing morning workouts, which is a run in the morning. We get up at about 5:40, practice starts at 6:30, that's 30 minutes, then school and practice after school at 3:10."
The dedication continues in the lunchroom. While many of their friends are eating junk food, sometimes wrestlers get nothing. Deshazer says, "I try to come in light but I always come in heavy. So I have to work hard to lose the weight."
The kids look up to former Heights wrestler Kendric Maple who is training for the Olympic games in Rio de Janeiro and others who have paved the way for the sport. McCray says, "This year we had Jordan Burroughs who won gold for the U.S. and I know he inspired a lot of kids like me and my friends. It's just great to think that you could be like him or even better. But we might not even get the chance now."
McCray and Deshazer are too young for the next round and with the IOC's decision, wrestling will not be a part of the 2020 games. Disappointing news for those working so hard. Church says, "There is no professional wrestling. So, our professional wrestling is the Olympics." McCray says, "Winning a city league for my team is already a great feeling. So just to think for the country, that would be amazing. Hopefully we'll still have the chance to."
Wrestlers around the world will have to fight seven other sports for a remaining wildcard spot in the 2020 Olympics.