Wrestling: Women aim to wrestle in 2000

OLYMPIC GAMES
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The Independent Online
Women's wrestling could be on the Olympic programme in Sydney in four years' time, the sport's governing body said yesterday.

Female wrestlers are registered in 56 countries - a number that is increasing steadily - and the international wrestling federation, Fila, is hopeful of seeing them competing in 2000.

"The standard is high in women's wrestling and it's lovely to look at," Michel Dusson, secretary general of Fila, said. "We're hoping to have it accepted this year." He said Fila would have to include women's wrestling within the eight days allotted to wrestling in the Olympic programme.

Women would fight at fewer weight divisions than the men and only in the freestyle event, and some men's categories might have to be cut. However, Dusson said it would be worth it: "There's less strength involved, but it's more dynamic. It would be very exciting."

Yuri Melnichenko of Kazakhstan won his country's first summer Olympic gold on Sunday, denying the United States a home victory by defeating world champion Dennis Hall in the 57kg Greco-Roman class.

Hall had attracted an enthusiastic home crowd to the Atlanta conference centre hosting the ancient Olympic sport, but they were soon silenced when Melnichenko, the 1994 world champion, used his superior speed to take a 4-0 lead in the first minute of the five-minute bout. Hall fought his way back into the match, grabbing a quick point with a throw-down in the last seconds, but had to settle for silver.

The Poles were on top form in Sunday's session and took two of the five golds on offer. Andrei Wronski, the 1988 Olympic and former world champion, ended what he said would be his last Olympics with victory over Sergei Lishtvan of Belarus.

It was the closest bout of the afternoon, lasting the regulation five minutes and three minutes of sudden-death extra time without any points being scored. Wronski won by a judges' decision.

Another Pole, Ryszard Wolni, bulldozed through France's European champion, Yalouz Ghani, in the 68kg class with a seven-point gold medal victory.

Shim Kwon-Ho of South Korea took the gold in the 48kg class, beating Aleksandr Pavlov of Belarus, while in the 82kg final, Turkey's Hamza Yerlikaya blocked out Germany's Thomas Zander for a three-point win. At the age of 20, Yerlikaya is now European, world and Olympic champion.

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