Olympic Games / Olympic Countdown - Wrestling: Gold without glitz

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The Independent Online
FORGET the razzmatazz from the United States that appears regularly on British television screens. Olympic wrestling is a vastly different sport from its professional counterpart.

There are two categories, Greco-Roman and freestyle, the main difference being that holds below the hips are not allowed in Greco-Roman wrestling. Bouts last about five minutes, the aim being to pin your opponent to the floor or to win on points.

Wrestlers from the United States and the Unified Team are likely to dominate in Barcelona. The American freestyle team includes John Smith (62kg category), five times the world champion and recently named the world wrestler of 1991.

Japan also have a strong wrestling tradition, having won 20 Olympic gold medals since 1964, but at the world championships last October they failed to win a title for the first time in 32 years. The Japanese will be hoping that Mitsuru Sato, winner of the freestyle 52kg class in Seoul, will become only the second wrestler in history to win successive Olympic golds.

The only British wrestler in Barcelona will be Calum McNeil, a chartered accountant from Glasgow. McNeil, who has been preparing for the Games in Canada, competes in the 68kg freestyle category. He finished 10th in the World Championships last year.

GREAT BRITAIN: C McNeil (68kg freestyle).

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