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Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette
Ken Chertow, who wrestled in the 1988 Olympics, leads the attendees at the Gold Medal Training Camp at Indiana Tech on Thursday.

Former Olympian roots for wrestling

– Wrestling is fighting for the final spot for inclusion in the 2020 Olympics.

“It is so easy to get caught up in the sport, and it takes a situation like this to act as a reminder that we, as wrestlers, have a duty to promote our sport,” said former U.S. Olympian Ken Chertow, who was holding his Gold Medal Training Camp on Thursday at Indiana Tech.

“Promotion and marketing of the sport is needed locally, nationally and internationally.”

The International Olympic Committee is scheduled to vote on the final sport Sept. 8. The two other contenders are squash and a joint bid from softball and baseball. Wrestling will still be included in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Chertow competed in freestyle wrestling for the United States in the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, South Korea. He was also a three-time NCAA All-American at Penn State.

Indiana Tech wrestling coach Mike Ester is helping at Chertow’s camp. Ester has been promoting the inclusion of wrestling in the 2020 Olympics since the announcement of its elimination in February.

“This fight has shown the true strength of the wrestling community,” Ester said.

Wrestling has world championships and world cup competitions held annually, but like many sports, those venues do not compare with the Olympics. Wrestling has been an Olympic staple since the Games started in ancient Greece.

“Along with running, wrestling is one of the two oldest sports in history,” Ester said. “The Olympics are the real dream and goal for a wrestler.”

The International Olympic Committee’s reason for wrestling’s elimination was that the sport was unwilling to modernize.

FILA, the international wrestling governing body, has been actively communicating with the IOC concerning changes that have been made in regards to Olympic competition.

“For the past six months, the IOC and FILA have been communicating back and forth to establish and change certain regulations,” Chertow said. “It all comes down to the vote in September.”

The United States, Russia and Iran have been on the forefront to save the sport from Olympic elimination.

Chertow has conducted summer training camps since 1989. This is the second year this camp has been held at Indiana Tech. This year, the camp attracted around 90 participants between the ages of 6 and 18 who have participated on club teams or high school teams in the area as well as Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee.

Chertow’s training camps are centered on the participants. As a coach, Chertow’s primary goal is to motivate each athlete to achieve their goals and continue to work hard outside of the camp environment.

Each day of the four-day camp consists of several training sessions, including techniques, drills, and practice scrimmages.

Along with providing additional wrestling training, Chertow’s camp promotes strength, confidence, nutrition education and off-the-mat mental preparation.

Dominick Maloney, 9, from Noblesville, came to the camp with his club team. He has been involved in wrestling for five years and enjoys the learning environment of the camp.

“The camp is teaching me additional skills and how to be more aggressive in my matches,” he said. “I hope to learn here, continue to work and earn a top-three placing in all three styles at state.”

High school junior Bobby Kelley of Ney, Ohio, hopes the camp will help him qualify for the high school state competition.

“So far my best result is almost qualifying for districts,” Ney said. “I will definitely take away the camp’s intensity.”

areichel@jg.net

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