Olympic gold medallist Carol Huynh has wrestled many tough opponents during her career. The former Hazelton, B.C., native might now face her biggest challenge when she goes to the mat with the bureaucracy of the International Olympic Committee.
Huynh has been named chair of a Wrestling Canada committee which hopes to keep wrestling within the core Olympic program. Like the bad guy in television wrestling who pulls a set of brass knuckles out his shorts, the IOC blindsided most everyone when they voted last month to drop wrestling from the 2020 Olympic Games to make room for another sport.
The most direct avenue for Huynh would be to put IOC president Jacques Rogge in a head lock and not release him until he admits his colleague made a big mistake. Instead, she and the other five committee members will follow a more diplomatic path of developing and implementing a strategy that ensures wrestling remains in the Olympics.
"I am excited and thrilled to take on these new duties,” Huynh, who is now a coach at the Calgary Dinos Wrestling Club, said in a release.
"We undoubtedly have a steep challenge in front of us. However, we as wrestlers are fierce competitors, and we will pursue every option and dedicate all available resources with the goal to meet our main objective to keep wrestling within the core Olympic sports program."
Like most amateur sport groups Wrestling Canada has limited resources. It's sad the organization has to spend time and money trying to keep one of the world's oldest sports in the Olympics. Wrestling has been contested since the first modern Games in 1896.
The 15-member IOC executive reviews all sports after each Olympics to see which should be kept. It had been speculated that modern pentathlon or taekwondo might be removed from the Games, but politics and regional influences resulted in wrestling getting tossed out of the ring.
So far the IOC executive's decision is only a recommendation and wrestling refuses to go down without a fight.
The sport's governing body, the International Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles, known as FILA, will lobby to keep the recommendation from being ratified at an IOC meeting in Buenos Aires in September.
There also is a May meeting in St. Petersburg, Russia, where the IOC executive will hear presentations from seven sports that hope to be included as additional events in 2020.
Wrestling Canada president Don Ryan, who also is a committee member, said the group must move quickly.
"Most of the work of this committee will be at the political level, attempting to persuade IOC members to vote against the recommendation," he said.
Besides Huynh and Ryan, the committee consists of Tamara Medwidsky, the executive director of Wrestling Canada; Leigh Vierling, head coach of the Canadian Women Wrestling team; Bill Hogarth, past president of Ontario Amateur Wrestling Association and a former Wrestling Canada board member; and Guy Napert-Frenette, a sports communications and public relations expert.
Wrestling fans can send proposals and suggestions for consideration to Wrestling Canada, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Huynh said the IOC can't ignore a loud public voice.
"We have a dedicated community, and we continue to ask for that passion to be carried out as the committee complete its work," she said.