WVU Coaches React to IOC's Decision to Cut Wrestling from Olympi - WBOY - Clarksburg, Morgantown: News, Sports, Weather

WVU Coaches React to IOC's Decision to Cut Wrestling from the 2020 Olympics

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The International Olympic Committee announced they will be cutting the sport of wrestling from the 2020 Olympics.

This came as a complete shock to the coaches of West Virginia University's Division I wrestling team. 

Head coach Craig Turnbull said the United States wasn't aware this was a possibility in the near future.

"We really had no representation in this decision and it really caught the United States wrestling world by a complete surprise," Turnbull said.

Assistant coach Danny Felix thought it was a hoax.

"I was stunned, I thought it was maybe a joke, a prank. I wasn't sure, but then I found out it was for real," Felix said.

Turnbull said wrestling as an Olympic sport was featured in the earliest Olympic games and to take it away when more than 200 countries offer this sport is an awful decision.

"To take away the opportunity to have that dream is a horrible thing and hopefully it will get turned around," Turnbull said.

For Felix, who wrestled on the 2009 U.S. world team, said he never would have made it that far without the possibility of qualifying for the Olympics.

"As a young child, 12 years old, I had an Olympic dream. I had a dream of competing at the highest level, representing team USA. I think if I didn't have that it wouldn't have kept me on that steady path," Felix said.

Greg Jones, the other assistant coach at WVU, said the Olympics allows athletes to have larger goals and dreams.

"The Olympics is the pinnacle of our sport. It's what drives a lot of young wrestlers. I think one of the reasons why I was able to attain the success I did in college is that my coaches constantly drove home a goal larger than the one I was pursuing," Jones added.

Jones won more than 100 matches in his college wrestling career at WVU. He said wrestling is more than just a sport, it's a way of life.

"Wrestling is really a lifestyle and it's a lifestyle that a lot of us lived since we were very young kids and to have something like that, the pinnacle of our sport taken away from us, you know, by surprise was something that was really hard to swallow," Jones said.

If the Olympics does eliminate wrestling, Jones said it would also impact future coaches of the sport.

"If you look across the NCAA wrestling, the Olympic movement has fostered and developed a lot of great leaders in our sport. So, I think if you start looking at the trickle down, you're looking at a lot of future coaches and a lot of future athletes that aren't getting that seasoning, that knowledge that is a part of that Olympic development," Jones said.

For Felix, he would feel it close to home because he had dreams of seeing his son follow in his footsteps.

"I have a son and he's starting to wrestle and he watched his daddy wrestle and he wants to do what I did and I want him to be able to have that," Felix said.

Felix, Turnbull, and Jones are optimistic about the decision being turned around and have already started doing what they can to help these efforts.

"There are a lot of wrestling fans, a lot of passionate wrestling fans. I think the IOC and the people who thought that they could do this are in for a big fight," Felix added.

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