FS FEATURE McIlravy weighs in feels good and is ready for action

By Gary Abbott | May 08, 2003, 12 a.m. (ET)
When 2000 Olympic bronze medalist Lincoln McIlravy made his dramatic announcement this winter that he was giving up his Freestyle Resident Coach job to return as an athlete, people had two basic questions. Could he make the new weight class at 145.5 pounds? If he did, would he feel well enough to excel? During the weigh-ins for the 2003 Las Vegas United States National Championships, he answered the first question easily. One of the first men on line, McIlravy needed no time to get down to his new weight class. And when asked if he felt good afterwards, McIlravy was very positive about things. "I feel good," said McIlravy. "It was what I expected. I didn't do anything new than I did when I made 152 pounds. I am more disciplined. I'm in such good cardio-vascular shape that I can work harder to get to weight." Speaking in a relaxed tone, the "lean" McIlravy was already focusing on his first competition since the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia, where he won his final bout in the third-place match. "I'm excited to wrestle. I feel good and healthy. I knew making weight would not be a problem. There is a whole new group of guys I have to wrestle now," he said. When asked about what he thought about seeding at his weight, McIlravy said he did not care, but he still felt that his past achievements should be recognized. "I am not going to look at it until tomorrow," he said. "I don't care. I will do my best to represent my ability. But, they would be crazy to seed me anything but No. 1.With my accomplishments and record, I don't see how they could do anything else." His entire family, including his wife, children and parents, will be in Las Vegas to see McIlravy's return to the mats. McIlravy believes that he will wrestle at least as well as he did prior to his retirement in 2000. During his time as a coach, he said that he learned many things that he did not know as an athlete. And the time has come for him to show it, to himself and to the wrestling community. "I feel real good now," he said. "I did that exhibition match against (Doug) Schwab and felt strong. This time, I am only here because I really want to be here. Before, sometimes I felt like I had to be here. This is a much better approach." When asked if he felt like an athlete or a coach still, McIlravy was very certain. "I'm an athlete," he said. "It's amazing how quickly that comes back."