Hastert goes to the mat to reinstate Olympic wrestling
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SPRINGFIELD — Former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert spoke before the Illinois House and Senate Thursday to urge the International Olympic Committee to add wrestling back to the Olympic Games.
The IOC has voted not to include wrestling beyond the 2016 Olympics.
Hastert, of Plano, a former high school wrestling coach who represented the Western suburbs in Congress from 1987 to 2007, spoke out against the decision.
"(It was) a wrongheaded decision made by the International Olympic Committee, which is all internal politics and people who didn't have constituencies. They happened to be princes and sisters of kings and sheiks and those types of people," Hastert said.
He said as a young wrestler he "was shown that I could do more than I ever dreamed I could do," a message he said stayed with him throughout his political career.
"This whole business is about ordinary people being able to do extraordinary things," Hastert said. "And to take away opportunities from young people today not only to be able participate but to say 'I can be an Olympian someday.'"
Illinois is one of 36 states along with the U.S. Congress that have approved resolutions to urge the IOC to reinstate wrestling.
Wrestling is up against seven other sports — baseball and softball, the Chinese martial art Wushu, squash, wakeboarding, roller sports, rock climbing and karate — for a provisional spot in the 2020 Olympics.
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