Wrestling federation making dramatic changes

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Wrestling federation making dramatic changes

The Korea Wrestling Federation is making dramatic changes to the format of its national tryouts in preparation for the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games in November.

Since Yang Jung-mo won Korea’s first gold medal in the sport at the 1976 Montreal Olympics, Korea had gone on to win at least one gold medal in wrestling the next six Olympic Games, not counting the boycotted 1980 Moscow Games.

Korea has traditionally fielded strong national teams in past Summer Games but having won only one bronze medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and no medals at the 2009 World Wrestling Championships in Herning, Denmark, the KWF has decided to overhaul its existing system. It made the announcement at a press conference on Tuesday afternoon.

“There are few countries that invest in and devote energy into the sport of wrestling like Korea. We thought long and hard about what the problem is,” stated Kim Hak-ryeol, secretary general of KWF.

After over a year of reviewing the current state of Korean wrestling, the KWF found the answer at an overseas training camp in Russia earlier this year. The answer was in the lack of number of competitions for Korean wrestlers.

“Leading wrestling athletes compete in anywhere from 50 to 100 matches before entering an international event. These wrestlers enter in many competitions from the national tryout phase,” Kim said.

The KWF has decided to host five national tryout tournaments this year. The tournaments will be divided into different age groups from high school, collegiate and senior wrestlers with the winners meeting for a final tournament.

Each wrestler will be allotted 10 points for entering a tournament and two additional points for winning a match. Two points will be deducted for losing a match. A first place finish at an international event will be given an additional point.

The first test of the year will start with the KBS National Tryouts later this month with the final tryout tournament taking place in June.

A wrestler will be expected to compete in about 30 matches in order to earn a spot on the national team. Once selected to represent Korea, national team members will participate in two to three overseas training camps wherein they will be able to compete in several more matches.

“We plan on awarding those selected to the national team with cash prizes. We also plan to provide our athletes with improved facilities,” said Chun Shin-il, the chairman of KWF.

“We are preparing, one step at a time, to become a productive national team. A plan for a grassroots level program to develop young and promising wrestlers is in place for the next decade.”

By Jason Kim, Jang Chi-hyeok [jason@joongang.co.kr]
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