The results confirm that the developmental program in America has succeeded in curating talent for freestyle success, with sustained year-to-year results on display at the World Championships. Victory has 1000 fathers and in this case USA Wrestling deserves praise for both supporting young athletes for international competitions and lifting up the RTC system which has connected post-graduate freestyle wrestlers with developing athletes.
As the gold medals pile up it's important to note just how unique the American system as compared to other nations. Funding aside, the hallmark of the American wrestling srtyle is that there is no one style defining the nation's top performers. They do share good conditioning and strength, but from Jordan Burroughs to Kyle Snyder to J'den Cox to Alex Dieringer the variation in offensive attacks, defensive strategy, and general gamesmanship varies wildly among our nation's best.
At the root of their success is what makes America successful in a variety of professional industries. There is a variety of backgrounds, experiences, skills, and motivations working together for a single goal. Strength through diversity. Diversity of race, religion, socioeconomic status, LGBTQ status, and a million other variables incumbent to a uniquely American lifestyle.
That diversity and sharing of experiences has meant that as Team USA ascends the world ranks it's doing so with unpredictable assets in place. A nation may well be prepared for Jake Varner, but were they ready for Kyle Snyder? If a nation focused on Snyder's style, would they be ready for James Green? No one person gives a full insight into the other, which is in contrast to nations like Japan, Iran, and Russia which wrestle in a single predictable manner. They too have success, but ours has much more potential for growth.
A wrestling tournament can be one of the most diverse places in American sports and much of that has to do with wide acceptance of individuals as they are in size or gender. We are the original melting pot of the sporting world and it's something we should continue to elevate and celebrate. We are a wildly diverse meritocracy. Everyone is aiming to achieve the same outcome no matter where, or how, they started their journey. Ours is a winning formula it's something we should continue to celebrate and never fail to protect.
To your questions …
Yianni Diakomihalis and Zain Retherford after their second match at Final X (Photo/Tony Rotundo, WrestlersAreWarriors.com)
Q: I can't be on your side given I'm Section V, but what's your take on the Yianni decision?
-- Don C.
Foley: According to a release by USA Wrestling, the arbitrator in the Yianni-Zain case has nullified the match due to irregularities in the timing of the final challenge and asked that the second match be re-wrestled. The date and time of the match are as-of-yet unknown, but will require the input of USA Wrestling and possibly the freestyle commission.
My opinion on the matter hasn't changed. The ruling was awkward for many fans, but no rules were broken and the match followed a known pattern of challenges used at the international level. Furthermore, matches at international events are no longer re-wrestled for any reason and given that the national federation abides by the international federation's general guidelines there should have been heavy deference paid to that standard. Finally, this is Pandora's Box for litigation up-and-down the wrestling community.
Yianni has proven himself to be a great wrestler and what is somewhat saddening is that his reputation is somewhat affected by this challenge. I have nothing but respect for him and his wrestling style and believe he is a surefire medalist at the World Championships.
But are we OK with this? Are we OK with a non-wrestling arbitrator misinterpreting rules to defy the common functioning norms of international wrestling?
Now to the details. When will this wrestle-off take place? The national federations are meant to have their entries in by Aug. 14 with exceptions given to Russia and the United States for some ongoing wrestle-offs. If Zain is hurt and is only able to wrestle right before the World Championships, is it OK to make him wrestle injured based on the timeline? Taking a step back, is Zain able to injunct the decision? When this happens, or is able to happen, it will be an incredibly difficult dustup to manage. What rights does Zain have in this process?
Overall, this is a sad day for wrestling. The arbitrator is a smart man, Yianni is a good wrestler, but wrestling suffered under the suspicion of corruption for decades partly due to re-wrestled matches. United World Wrestling put a firm end to that process, but now it's sneaking back in and the only consequence is more corruption, more suspicion, and ultimately a less fair outcome for the majority of athletes. The reintroduction of the legal process into a competed match will lead to negative outcomes.
Good luck to these wrestlers the rest of the way. This is not their fault. I guess we can only hope for the best outcome for them in their professional and personal lives.
Upset? Watch this woman get dropped on her back. Yowza.