IOC vote reaction at USA Wrestling watch party. (Photo: YouTube Screen Grab)
Seven months. That's how long amateur wrestlers the world over have been waiting to find out if their sport, a mainstay of the Olympics for centuries, would truly be removed from the Olympic line-up starting in 2020.
Back in February, the International Olympic Committee voted to toss out wrestling in favor of sports deemed more exciting.
"At the time I thought it was a joke. A bad joke," says Elena Pirozhkova, who wrestled for the US women's team in London in 2012.
Pirozhkova, along with other Olympians, watched as FILA, the International Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles, changed its leadership, updated its rules, and began an all-out PR blitz to get the sport reinstated to the 2020 Games.
Sunday, at a meeting in Buenos Aires, Argentina, the IOC voted to reinstate wrestling, which handily beat out baseball-softball and squash in a vote. But, wrestling will not be considered a "core sport," which means its only safe for the 2020 and 2024 Olympics. After that, the sport will have to reapply to stay in the lineup.
Still, for now, Pirozhkova is ecstatic. As is the rest of the women's team.
"It's like we've won the first period," Pirozhkova says, referring to the two-period setup of a typical amateur wrestling match. "It just shows that people around the world love wrestling, and that it could become even more popular than it is now."