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Olympic Poseur: Wrestling

I did not watch either of these men wrestle. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
I did not watch either of these men wrestle. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

During these Olympics, Poseur will spend each day watching and reviewing one sport. He also promises to stop referring to himself in the third person.

Today's Sport: Wrestling

Wrestling kicks it old school. It is hard to imagine a more quintessential Olympic sport than wrestling, as it has been a part of the Olympic roster since 1896 (though it was not included in 1900). Wrestling is one of the most pure sports out there, and it stands right next to track and field as one of those events you think of as soon as someone says "Olympic sport."

While track gives us global superstars ever four years, wrestling lags behind in star power. It has since been lapped in popularity by other core Olympic sports like swimming and gymnastics, and has fallen behind such interlopers as volleyball, cycling, and tennis. There just aren't a whole lot of famous Olympic wrestlers, and the ones who do become famous do so because they started fake wrestling. The places where wrestling is huge don't exactly move the needle either: the ex-Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, and the flyover states.

Olympic wrestling has an image problem. People view it almost like a French New Wave film. Sure, we say we've seen it and we talk about how great it is, but the idea of actually watching a black and white film about clowns isn't that enticing. No one would actually bad mouth wrestling, but it's not like people are running out to watch it either.

Why not?

Well, frankly. It's pretty boring. Greco-Roman wrestling seems like a six minute contest in belly flopping on the mat from the kneeling position. Scoring is low and the advantages gained are usually pretty technical. It's a pretty hard sport for the novice fan to follow.

Once again, I fully support wrestling on the Olympic roster. I would fight anyone who even suggested removing it because this really is one of the very core Olympic disciplines. But, please, I don't want to actually have to watch it.

The Favorite: Russia

Of course. The Soviet Union, despite not existing for the past 20 years and most of the early Olympics, still holds a pretty large lead in all-time gold medals. Russia brings a pretty stacked roster and have the defending world champion.

The Gold Medalist: Iran

Iran has now won two gold medals in this Olympics, both in wrestling. Speaking of non-glamour nations winning. Omid Noroozi appeared to pretty much dominate his match, despite lacking much mobility due to his heavily wrapped shoulder. But he could lay down pretty effectively.

Swimming and Track Update

The last time an American didn't win the 400 meters, the US had boycotted the Olympics. On top of that, the US has had a runner in the 400m final in every single Olympics they have participated in. This is one of the statement events for American track and field. The US failure to make the finals in the 400 meters isn't so much a failure of US track, but clear proof that the world has changed.

The rest of the world has caught up. We're all on an even playing field now. While I would like it for the US to keep dominating this event, I'm actually more excited by the world in which pretty much anyone can win. The era of US dominance in track and field is officially over.

Next Up: Weightlifting