28 November 2021

London 2012: Bluffer’s guide to wrestling

July 22, 2012

Recognised as one of the world’s oldest sports, wrestling was first held at the ancient Olympics in 708 BC, and Greco-Roman Wrestling was later included in the first of the Modern Olympic Games in Athens 1896.

Played out on a circular mat measuring 12m X 12m, the sport is a battle of nerves, strength and skill, and should provide plenty of drama in London this summer as much like gymnastics and weightlifting, it features some of the most explosive and powerful athletes in the world. .

Venue: ExCel

Date: August 5 – 12

Jargon buster

Arm throw: A move where the wrestler throws his opponent over his shoulder by using his arm.

Body lock: A hold where a wrestler locks arms around the body of his opponent before taking him to the mat.

Bridge: The arched position a wrestler adopts to avoid his back touching the mat.

Grand amplitude: A throw which secures five points.

Pin: To force an opponent’s shoulders to the ground for two seconds to stop and win the match.

Takedown: To take an opponent from a standing position to the ground.

The clinch: When the combatants are grappling in a clinch in a standing position.

Basic rules

The sport is divided into two disciplines, freestyle and Greco-Roman, each with their own weight divisions but women only take part in the freestyle events.

One of the key differences between the disciplines is that the athletes are allowed to use all their body parts when attempting moves in the freestyle, whereas in the Greco-Roman event holds are only allowed above the waist and legs.

Bouts take place over three periods of two minutes, with a 30-second break between them.

The aim of wrestling is to force a pin before your opponent does whilst in the process gaining points by executing various moves such as take-downs.

If at the end of the match neither wrestler has managed to pin the other, then the decision goes to points with the highest being the winner.

If one wrestler earns a ten point lead they automatically win or the contest can finish early if a wrestler wins the first two periods or pins their opponent.

One to watch

Olga Butkevych. In February 2012 she passed a residential qualification allowing the Ukrainian born athlete to have a British passport.

She is GB’s sole wrestler in the Olympic Games this summer, competing in the women’s -55kg division. She took silver at the Olympic test event last December and also won bronze at the 2011 European Championships.

Olympic rivalry?

The most powerful nations at the last Games were Russia, Japan and Georgia. Russia won six of the available 18 gold medals.

Who’s the gold medal favourite?

Nine times World Champion and twice Gold medalist Saori Yoshida of Japan is sure to be the favourite to win gold in the women’s -55kg event this year.

Who to follow on twitter…



Wrestling Olympic fact

Women had to wait over a century after the first Modern Olympic Games was held in 1896, before they could take part in the wrestling event.

The Women’s Sports Magazine

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