Central's Buono 'disappointed in IOC decision

Mention the ancient Olympic Games of Greece and visions of marathon runners, discus throwers and wrestlers immediately come to mind.

It’s certainly what popped in the head of Burnaby Central wrestling coach legend Gianni Buono when the International Olympic Committee made the startling revelation on Tuesday it was dumping wrestling from its roster of Summer Games sports starting in 2020.

“My concern is to get a sport like wrestling that’s been around since the beginning back in it. When I think of the Olympics I connect that with the original sport,” said Buono. “That’s what resonates in my mind … I know times have changed but there’s something to be said to having it in the Olympics.”

Buono is “very disappointed” in the decision and thinks it’s a big mistake because so many countries have it as a national sport.

“Although there’s many popular sports, wrestling has a broad participation base around the world,” said Buono, who was inducted into Burnaby Sports Hall of Fame in 2009 for producing perennial provincial powerhouse teams.

“That’s why so it’s so important to keep wrestling in the Olympics. If wrestling wasn’t one of the sports those countries wouldn’t be participating in the Olympics.”

Canada has produced many Olympic champion wrestlers including Daniel Igali and Carol Hyunh, both of whom trained in Burnaby at Simon Fraser University.

Their success has bred interest in the sport and incentive to young athletes like Buono’s at Burnaby Central, whose boys teams finished second in the province last year and won the B.C. high school championships in 2009 and 2010.

“I think kids for the most part participate in sport for fun. Having the Olympics is just a great influence for the kids because kids get to see it for exposure and to strive for. However, most kids participate for enjoyment,” said Buono. “But that’s part of the Olympic motto, to be the best you can be, higher faster, stronger, so I do think that’s important for kids to have an influence of the Olympics, that dream in their mind.”

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