Rio 2016 Olympics: Wrestling guide

a wrestling match
Credit: Getty Images

How to play

Wrestling is divided into two disciplines, freestyle and Greco-Roman, each with their own weight divisions.

Men compete in both disciplines, whereas women take part only in the freestyle events, in four categories. The men have seven in each.

Bouts take place on a mat, over three periods of two minutes, with a 30-second break between them. The aim is to force the opponent’s shoulders back on to the ground for two seconds, called a pin, or to score points by executing throws and take-down moves on an opponent.

The more spectacular the flip, the more points it generally earns. Additional points are awarded if you flip an opponent on to their back.

If at the end of the match neither competitor has managed to pin the other, then the decision goes to points. If one wrestler earns a 10-point lead they automatically win. A contest can finish early if a competitor wins the first two periods or pins his opponent.

In freestyle, the protagonists are permitted to use all parts of their body to attempt moves, locks and holds. In Greco-Roman holds are only allowed above the waist.

Wrestling is a popular sport in America Credit: AP

Events/discipline

Freestyle:

Men’s 57kg, 65kg, 74kg, 86kg, 97kg, 125kg; Women's 48kg, 53kg, 58kg, 63kg, 69kg, 75kg.

Greco-Roman:

Men’s 59kg, 66kg, 75kg, 85kg, 98kg, 130kg.

Gold medals available:

18

Tactics and techniques

Wrestling, like gymnastics, weightlifting and powerlifting, features some of the most explosive and powerful athletes in the world.

Every bout is a trial of strength, testing the very upper limits of cardiovascular conditioning and requiring stamina-sapping effort.

The aim is to execute a take-down or throw before your opponent does, so speed of thought must match speed of action.

Often a simple shift in body weight can help you use your opponent’s momentum to your advantage. Technique is as important as raw strength. Good execution of moves will help you effectively take down your opponent and score more points.

What to say

“Classic takedown, if he can pin him from here he’s got this won.”

What not to say

“If I’m honest, I was hoping there would be a sumo section. And where’s The Undertaker?”

If it were a TV programme, it would be

Top Gear. Men being men with other men.

Facts and phrases

Wrestling is the oldest form of sporting combat and has a mythology like no other sport.

It is said that Greek god Zeus out-wrestled Cronus for control of the universe. The great philosopher Plato and writer Homer are known to have been fans of the sport, the latter mentioning it in his epic work the Iliad. In the ancient Olympics, wrestling was the marquee event. Greco-Roman wrestling was an event at the first modern Games at Athens in 1896. Freestyle was introduced by public demand at the St Louis 1904 Games. Women had to wait for another century to compete, at Athens in 2004.

Iran typically does very well in the wrestling  Credit: AP

Jargon

Body lock: A hold where a wrestler locks arms around the body of his opponent before taking him to the mat. 

Bridge: The arched position a wrestler adopts to avoid his back touching the mat.

Arm throw: A move where the wrestler throws his opponent over his shoulder by using his arm.

Take-down: To take an opponent from a standing position to the ground.

Pin: To force an opponent's shoulders to the ground to stop and win the match.

Grand amplitude: A throw that secures five points.

The clinch: When the combatants are grappling in a clinch in a standing position.

Legends

Alexander Medved of Russia won 10 world championships and three Olympic gold medals, between 1964 and 1972. At Tokyo 1964, Japan’s Osamu Watanabe ended his career undefeated by winning his 186th consecutive match to claim Olympic gold in the 1964 Games.

Random Fact

Before point scoring was introduced, wrestling matches continued until one wrestler was forced to the ground. At Stockholm 1912, Russia's Max Klein and Finland's Alfred Asikainen set a Games record with a match that lasted 11 hours.

Official sites

http://www.rio2016.com/en/greco-roman-wrestling
http://www.rio2016.com/en/freestyle-wrestling
www.britishwrestling.org/
www.themat.com/

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