The Olympic Games is the oldest sporting competition in the world, today it is a massive event watched by millions of people all over the world. Countries from every corner of the globe compete in a bewildering array of events, and during the two weeks of the competition the world stands still to cheer their athletes on. Wrestling appeared in the very formative versions of the Olympic Games, and apart from perhaps athletics it is widely considered to be one of the world’s oldest sports. There is evidence that confirms that athletes have been wrestling since 3000BC.
Wrestling as Part of Modern Day Olympics
It was not until 1904 that the Olympic Committee added freestyle wrestling to the Olympic schedule. It was also known at this time as catch as catch can. This rather bizarre name sounds like it should be part of a kids’ playground game not an Olympic sport. Originally, the style of wrestling in the Olympics was called Greco-Roman, but this new freestyle was immensely popular as it was already a big hit at festivals and fairs were local men used to wrestle each other. Freestyle wrestling was enjoyed both in America as well as Britain, and when it hit the Olympics it was a huge success.
The 1900 Games
Wrestling in some shape or form has played a part in nearly every Olympic Games. The only year that this was not the case was in 1900 when for some strange reason it was omitted completely. In St. Louis, in 1904 freestyle wrestling appeared for the very first time. Freestyle was then omitted in the 1912 Olympics but was back again in 1920 at Antwerp. Since then is has been an ever-present event at the Olympic Games.
During all this time Greco-Roman wrestling was constantly on the events program, but this changed somewhat in 2000 when alterations to the format of Greco-Roman wrestling were made. The weight categories were reduced to eight from the previous ten. Freestyle soon followed suit and it too had its weight categories reduced from ten to seven. This was done so that women could now take part in the sport. And in 2004 at the home of the Olympics, Athens, women wrestlers took part for the very first time in four different categories.
Greco-Roman vs Freestyle
Freestyle wrestling as the name suggests is a very open form of wrestling, whereas in Greco-Roman wrestling competitors only use their upper bodies and arms, this is not the case in freestyle. Another factor in Greco-Roman that is different to freestyle, is the fact that the wrestlers can only hold the same parts as their opponents are holding. It seems as far as time goes back in terms of the Olympic Games that wrestling has been a core part of it. If you consider that the original games had events that were based on battle, such as wrestling and the javelin, you can understand why wrestling is such a corner stone of Olympic competition.