Wrestling Federation readying for World Championships, brand overhaulFILA president Nenad Lalovic of Serbia at the 2014 Veterans World Championships in Belgrade, Serbia. Photo by Robbert Wijtman.
TASHKENT, Uzbekistan (September 1) – A little less than one year ago Nenad Lalovic stood in front of the International Olympic Committee on behalf of the international federation for wrestling and promised change, growth and accountability. In exchange he asked for wrestling to be voted back into the Olympic Games.
Twelve months later Lalovic and the wrestling federation are following through on their promises for reform. New rules have led to an increase in scoring and modifications to governance have produced a more transparent and productive organization.
Lalovic is marking the one-year anniversary of Olympic re-inclusion by presenting member nations at the FILA Congress a comprehensive brand overhaul. The congress, which convenes September 7, will also have the option to elect new executive members and also be presented a variety of ideas meant to increase the worldwide marketability of the sport.
“We have a lot going on this week,” said Lalovic. “We have the elections, the change of our name and logo, and that’s all followed by a long list of really exciting and future-oriented issues like design of the mats, design of venues, and presentation of competitions.”
“Altogether we are addressing a long-needed change of the “brand” that is wrestling.”
The day after the Congress, Lalovic will open the first day of wrestling for the world championships, a tournament for which he believes Uzbekistan will be an exemplary host nation.
“We will feel like at home, we are in the hands of friends who know how to organize a competition of this size and who deeply love wrestling. This world championship should be a great success.”
The championships are one of the largest in recent years with more than 700 wrestlers from almost 80 countries traveling to Tashkent for the competition. More than two-dozen current and former world champions will be competing across 24 weight classes and three styles over the course of the seven-day tournament, September 8-14.
Mr Akhroldjan Ruziev, FILA Bureau member from Uzbekistan added, “We are proud to host the 2014 Wrestling World Championship in Tashkent. Uzbekistan is very passionate about wrestling and will do everything to make this event a huge success. The co-operation with FILA was excellent and we are well prepared to host a great competition. Not just from a technical point of view but also socially. We are looking forward to showing the wrestling community the warm hospitality of the Uzbek people. ”
Defending team champions Japan will highlight female wrestling action led by 11x world champion Saori YOSHIDA (53kg) and 8x world champion Kaori ICHO (58kg). The team has won the 8 of the last 10 team titles in female wrestling, last year edging up-and-coming powerhouse Mongolia by one-point for team gold.
Iran is the defending men’s freestyle team champions, but it’s Russia, with three world champions and top-ranked youngster Abdulrashid SADULAEV (85kg), who are the favorites to take the team title in 2014. Khadshimourad GATSALOV (125kg) will be seeking a sixth world title along with Denis TSARGUSH (74kg) and Viktor LEBEDEV who are each seeking their third.
Russia will also hope to defend their 2013 Greco-Roman team title, but will face tough competition from an Iranian side that edged them at the World Cup this May in Tehran and are led by 5x world champion Hamid SORYAN (59kg). Hungary brings two top-ranked wrestlers to Tashkent in Tomas LORINCZ (71kg) and Peter BACSI (80kg) who they hope can help deliver their nation’s first Greco-Roman team title since 2005.
The world championships are being held during a difficult time for international sport. The recent outbreak of Ebola in West Africa forced the Uzbekistan Ministry of Health to restrict the incoming travel of people from Guinea (Conakry) , Guinea Bissau , Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and Democratic Republic of the Congo. The decision affects a total of nine wrestlers; seven from Nigeria and two from Sierra Leone.
“Our sympathies go out to the affected wrestlers, coaches and fans,” said Lalovic. “Not only are they dealing with controlling the spread of this deadly virus, but are now unable to pursue their dreams of a world championship in 2014.”
“We hope to see them on the mats again soon.”
The international wrestling federation will continue to pay close attention to the Ebola situation and if there are any updates or further developments we will continue to communicate them as they happen.
The Uzbekistani Health Ministry’s decision, which FILA had sought last week in an official letter, is in line with that of China and Russia who recently restricted travel from West Africa for the Youth Olympic Games and Judo world championships respectively.
For full coverage of all the action from Tashkent, visit FILA-Wrestling.com.
FILA, the International Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles, is the global governing body of the sport of wrestling. It works to promote the sport and facilitate the activities of its 177 national federations from around the world. It is based in Corsier-sur-Vevey, Switzerland.
To learn more about FILA visit its official website, http://www.fila-official.com/; Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/fila.official, or Twitter handle, @FILA_Official.