Members of the U.S. wrestling team shook hands and took pictures with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at an awards ceremony on Friday, after they finished third in a tournament in Tehran.
The American and Iranian wrestling teams, which were in Iran’s capital to compete in a freestyle wrestling World Cup event, are fighting “arm-in-arm” for the survival of their sport after it was recommended to be removed from the 2020 Olympics schedule by the IOC in a vote last week during an executive board meeting.
The cooperation between the nations is being compared to the famous “Ping-pong Diplomacy” of the early-1970s, when U.S. and Chinese players competed against one another in friendly tournaments that many believe paved the way for then President Nixon to visit Beijing.
The U.S. and Iran have had poor diplomatic relations since 1979 Islamic Revolution, when protestors stormed the American embassy and held 52 people hostage for 444 days.
Iran ended up finishing first in the team event Friday, beating Russia in the finals, while Americans Jordan Burroughs, Obenson Blanc, Joseph Kennedy, Harold Metcalf, John Askren, Tervel Dlagnev, and James Bergman scored a 6-1 record against Belarus to take the bronze.
Steve Langton, who was described by driver Steven Holcomb as the “best push athlete in the world,” announced his retirement today.
A collegiate sprinter and jumper at Northeastern University, Langton decided to try bobsledding after watching the 2006 Winter Olympics. He filled out an online athlete resume, and, by the 2010 Games, he was an Olympian.
At the Sochi 2014 Games, Langton teamed with Holcomb to win a bronze medal in the two-man race. It was the first Olympic medal in the event by American sled since 1952. He claimed another bronze medal as a member of Holcomb’s four-man “Night Train.”
“In Sochi I competed on the world’s biggest stage, I won two medals for my country and I did so along not only the best teammates but best friends anyone could ever ask for,” Langton told USA Bobsled.
Langton, who has a 62-inch standing box jump and can squat more than 500 pounds, was described by Men’s Health as “the most powerful winter Olympian” in the lead-up to 2014 Games.
“[Langton’s] work ethic and discipline rubbed off on the other athletes and made everyone better,” said USA Bobsled & Skeleton Chief Executive Officer Darrin Steele. “I have no doubt that he’ll find success in the next chapter of his life as well.”
Langton appeared on “The Amazing Race” in 2015 with his girlfriend, Aly Dudek, an Olympic short track speedskater.
None of the push athletes on the current U.S. roster have Olympic experience. Holcomb will compete in the World Cup opener this Saturday with Sam McGuffie, a former University of Michigan football player. The race will be McGuffie’s World Cup debut.