PHUKET: The 2013 Asian Junior Wrestling Championship was held at Saphan Hin’s 4,000-seat Indoor Sports Complex last weekend. Nearly 400 wrestlers from 20 countries competed at Free Style, Greco Roman and Female wrestling. The event was open to 17 to 18-year-old wrestlers, but participants under the age of 17 could compete if organizers received written permission from their parents.
Thailand had over 20 wrestlers at the event but none from Phuket. The majority of Thai wrestlers were from Nakhon Si Thamarat, Rachathani and Bangkok.
The event was the first time some of the Asian wrestlers have competed in an event since the World Wrestling Body (FILA) implemented a number of rule changes to help get the sport back into the Olympics, mainly: the time and periods of the bout (2×3 minutes), cumulative score instead of the best-of-three-format, the procedure for passivity (the rules governing Greco-Roman and Freestyle are distinctly different) and changing the point count for take downs to two points. These rule changes are designed to encourage wrestlers to adopt a more attacking style of wrestling.
Due to poor advertising by the event organizers or a distinct lack of interest in wrestling, the indoor arena at Saphan Hin was full of competitors, coaches, officials and family members, but hardly any fans.
The Thai Amateur Wrestling Association’s International Coordinator, Achara Pimpang understands that wrestling is not as big in Thailand as in India or Iran.
“When people in Thailand think of wrestling they think the wrestlers will throw chairs and that it is the professional wrestling they see on TV. People in Thailand don’t really know wrestling,” she said.
India finished top overall in Free Style wrestling with 68 points, Thailand came 13th with nine points. Japan and India finished joint top on 55 points overall in Female wrestling, with Thailand’s female wrestlers finishing a respectable 5th on 44 points. South Korea won the Greco Roman wrestling on 57 points, Thailand finished 9th with 24 points.
Wrestling has made the final shortlist of sports to be considered for the 2020 Olympic Games along with squash and a joint baseball/softball bid. One sport will be chosen in September at an International Olympic Committee meeting in Argentina in September.
— Andrew Scott
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