Jordan Burroughs poses for a portrait during the Team USA Tokyo 2020 Olympics shoot on Nov. 21, 2019 in West Hollywood, Calif.
Inside the Numbers presented by DeVry is a series that gives fans a peek at the numbers behind what it takes to qualify for Team USA and other incredible facts about Team USA sports.
Athletes in all sports want to be No. 1. For the wrestlers taking to the mat at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Wrestling next month in Fort Worth, Texas, being the last one standing also means it’s their ticket to Tokyo.
There’s only one spot in each weight class available at the Games, where 288 total athletes will face off. Whether this is a wrestler’s first time at Trials or if they’re already an Olympic champion, they’ll all need to earn their place on the U.S. Olympic Team through Trials.
With Trials just around the corner and the Games themselves not far behind this summer, here’s a closer look at wrestling by the numbers presented by DeVry University.
Sure, wrestling was one of nine sports on the program at the first modern Olympic Games in 1896, but wrestling’s association with the Games goes back way further than that. It was a fixture of the Ancient Olympic Games, introduced in 708 B.C. Wrestlers were hugely popular athletes in their time, competing in a sport with few rules and using nearly any means necessary to subdue their opponents.
The only modern Games wrestling has not appeared in was the 1900 Paris Games. A 2013 proposal to drop wrestling for 2020 nearly came to pass before the sport’s leadership successfully campaigned for its readmittance.
Only men were allowed to participate in the Ancient Olympic Games. And until 2004, that was how wrestling operated at the modern Games as well. Four freestyle weight classes were contested in the first women’s meet, with Team USA’s Sara McCann taking silver at 63 kg. and Patricia Miranda winning bronze at 48 kg.
The circle where the action takes place in a wrestling match is just 9 meters (29.53 feet) wide. Wrestlers ultimately seek to pin each other, but also score points based on the effectiveness of their actions and the degree to which they put their opponent in danger. Competition is timed with two periods of three minutes.