Weight management comes part and parcel with many sports. Wrestling, judo, boxing, weightlifting -- weighing in at the scale is just part of the daily routine. Most athletes and coaches who have reached an an Olympic level in these sports know how to deal with it. So why is the United States having a hard time at the scale in these Olympics?
First, boxer Gary Russell Jr. collapsed while trying to make weight. Then, the Chicago Sun-Times found out that the U.S. Greco-Roman wrestling team was using a bad scale. According to team captain T.C. Dantzler:
The scale the team has been using was wrong. Everybody was about a kilo wrong. Almost for the past week, we all thought our weight was something it wasn't.
The scale that U.S.A. wrestling brought to China was off an entire kilogram, which is about 2.2 pounds. That is, quite simply, inexcusable. Weighing in at 2.2 lbs over weight would have ruined a wrestler's Olympic dreams. Luckily, the error was caught before weigh-ins, but the result was that wrestlers who thought they were close to their target weight had to work that much harder to cut the final pounds. Furiously cutting additional weight is not what you want to be doing when heading into the most important match of your life, not to mention that it isn't safe.
Dantzler lost his first and only match in the Olympics. Did the extra weight he had to cut cause him to lose? Possibly. He could not finish a move in the third period that he easily finished in the first period, so clearly, fatigue affected him. When these games are over, the USOC needs to take a hard look at the weight-cutting procedures of each of its sports, and make sure that the athletes are using healthy methods that will not compromise their safety or ability to win.