Tyler Graff spent 2011-12 season training for the Olympic Games.
Sept. 13, 2013
MADISON, Wis.--For seven months, Wisconsin wrestling head coach and two-time Olympian Barry Davis was at a near loss for words.
In February, the sport in which Davis has either competed in, coached or watched his entire life, had been eliminated from the 2020 Olympic Games.
“At first, it was devastating,” he said. “It’s one of the core sports. When you think of the Olympic Games, you think of wrestling, maybe track, just a few sports.”
That is until last Sunday, when the International Olympic Committee reinstated the sport after beating out baseball-softball and squash, bringing a newfound sense of excitement for Davis and his team heading into the 2013-14 season. The sport is now officially in the program for the 2020 Games in Tokyo, Japan.
“It’s a big thing,” Davis said. “It was like, ‘Wow, coach, did you hear this?’ It’s the ultimate in the sport of wrestling. It doesn’t get any higher than that.”
Davis, who was a three-time NCAA champion at Iowa and a 1984 Olympic Silver Medalist, says the reinstatement will undoubtedly give his wrestlers a new sense of motivation.
“It’s the highest level for us,” he said. “Tennis, golf, they have the Majors and US Opens going on. But for us, it’s the ultimate. It’s more important for us to have that next level, something that these guys in college can shoot for. I think it’s very important.”