Russia’s Sagid Murtazalie, following the lead of Bulgarian champion Valentin Yordanov, has also returned his gold medal to the IOC Tuesday, in protest of the organization’s recommendation to remove the sport from the 2020 Olympics.
“The decision to return my Olympic medal was not easy for me,” Murtazaliev, the Sydney 2000 heavyweight champ, said in a letter to IOC president Jacques Rogge.
It leaves us to wonder whether passionate American champions like Rulon Gardner or Kurt Angle will be joining their wrestling brethren in returning their medals. But USA Wrestling spokesman Gary Abbott told USA Today that it’s not likely to happen:
“Each wrestling nation and each individual athlete will do what they can to keep the issue in front of the world,” Abbott said. “I don’t think there’s been a call within the wrestling community to do this. I think these are individual statements being made by individual athletes wanting to make a difference in the discussion. We haven’t heard that from any of our athletes.”
But USA Wrestling is being proactive by creating the Committee for the Preservation of Olympic Wrestling, and by putting aside diplomatic issues with countries like Iran and Russia in order for wrestlers from those nations to join each other in the common goal of returning wrestling to its Olympic status.
Wrestling’s first challenge will be a vote in St. Petersburg in May, which will determine which of the eight prospective sports, including squash, karate, wakeboarding, sport climbing, roller sports, wushu, and baseball/softball, will move on to the final IOC vote in September. That vote will determine which sport will fill the one open spot in the 2020 Olympics schedule.
We already knew Katie Ledecky can beat the boys in practice, even an Olympic champion.
One of the many takeaways from this week’s Sports Illustrated profile of Ledecky is that she has beaten 11-time Olympic medalist Ryan Lochte in practice.
Ledecky and Lochte may rep different swim clubs — Ledecky in Washington, D.C., and Lochte in Charlotte — but they both take trips to the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., for altitude training.
“She swims like a guy,” Lochte said after training with Ledecky in Colorado Springs in March, according to SI. “I’ve never seen a female swimmer like that. … Her times are becoming good for a guy. She’s beating me now, and I’m like, What’s going on?”
When Ledecky broke the women’s 1500m freestyle world record for the third time at the August 2014 Pan Pacific Championships, her time of 15:28.36 was .01 faster than Lochte’s 1500m free time at the 2004 U.S. Olympic Trials (one of the rare instances Lochte swam a 1500m free).
Ledecky has since re-broken the women’s 1500m free world record twice more, bringing it down to 15:25.48.
“I trained with her in Colorado once, and she made me look like I was stopping,” Lochte reportedly told media on his 31st birthday, Aug. 3 at the World Championships in Kazan, Russia. “She flew by me.”
MORE: Shirley Babashoff bows to Katie Ledecky
Athens Olympic softball champion Jennie Finch will manage the Bridgeport Bluefish, an independent minor-league baseball team on Sunday and, reportedly, become the first woman to manage a men’s pro baseball team.
Finch, a pitcher, retired from softball in 2010, two years after her sport’s Olympic farewell in Beijing, where she and the U.S. took silver behind Japan.
Finch has been an advocate for softball’s return to the Olympics, which could happen in Tokyo 2020.
The International Olympic Committee is expected to decide in August if baseball and softball, among four other sports, will be added for the Tokyo Games.
Finch, who is married to former MLB pitcher Casey Daigle, is also known for having struck out Albert Pujols.
MORE: Jennie Finch, Lisa Fernandez weigh in on Mo’ne Davis