Olympic Committee needs to keep wrestling
It is a big disappointment for many in Porterville and the Central Valley to see the International Olympic Committee drop wrestling from the Olympics, beginning with the 2020 Games.
Porterville High wrestling coach Tim Vanni is a two-time Olympian, and right now Porterville has two of the top ranked high school wrestlers in the state. And, even girls are getting into the act, any future Olympic dreams any of them may have had have been dashed as well.
On Tuesday, the International Olympic Committee announced it had decided to eliminate wrestling as an Olympic sport. It cited dwindling interest in the sport as one reason for eliminating it, but did leave the door open to reinstate it.
Porterville has a rich wrestling tradition. Vanni wrestled in both the 1988 and 1992 Olympics and as coach of the Porterville High Wrestling team today, he is an inspiration to many others who are aspiring to become Olympic wrestlers. Vanni will tell you how being an Olympic wrestler helped make him who he is today.
Two local high school wrestlers, Mason Pengilly of PHS and Monache’s Matt Gamble, are currently each ranked No. 1 in the entire state in their respective weight classes. These two young men have wrestled all their lives to get to the top, and we are sure their eyes were set on an Olympic appearance.
There are efforts underway to save wrestling as an Olympic sport, and we hope they are successful. In fact, with the growing interest in girls wrestling — congratulations to Porterville High School girls that just won the first Valley title ever in girl’s wrestling — we’d like to see wrestling expanded in the future to include women.
Having young men and women strive to become Olympic champions should be open to everyone and wrestling needs to remain a part of the world’s biggest sports stage.