Nenad Lalovic hopes wrestling's changes will win back Olympic spot
On Feb. 12, the executive board of the International Olympic Committee voted to recommend wrestling for exclusion from the program of Olympic sports starting in 2020, leaving an uncertain future for one of the oldest, most respected sports at the Games. The sport's international governing body, FILA, which boasts 177 member teams, changed presidents shortly after the announcement, promoting one of its board members, member Nenad Lalovic of Serbia, to be the new head of the organization.
Lalovic and FILA now face the difficult task of convincing the IOC to keep the sport in the Games -- first when the executive board narrows its list of prospective sport candidates (wrestling, squash, karate, sport climbing, roller sports, wushu, wakeboarding and a combined bid of baseball and softball) in St. Petersburg later this month and then when the IOC's general membership votes to fill out its 2020 program at the IOC Session in Buenos Aires in September.
The week, the U.S. is hosting a wrestling exhibition called Rumble on the Rails in New York's iconic Grand Central Station with wrestlers from Iran and Russia, two traditional wrestling powerhouses. Lalovic spoke to Sports Illustrated about the IOC decision and the changes wrestling plans to make in order to win back its place on the Olympic program.