And in Canada, this means more than just the chance to win medals.
When Daniel Igali wrapped himself in the Canadian flag in 2000, so too did the country itself. We celebrated excellence, we celebrated gold, and we celebrated a better Canadian life through sport: the sport of wrestling.
As the Nigerian-born refugee cloaked himself in the maple leaf after winning his gold medal in Sydney, Canada was reminded of how critically important the sport of wresting is to the fabric of our nation.
“Thank you to a country that gave me life,” said Igali after being inducted into the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame last summer. “Thanks for the opportunities you gave (me) to excel in a profession that I can never match.”
These are the iconic moments (and people) that we must continue to fight for as a country.
Huynh is more than just an advocate for the longevity of a sport that gave her and Canada so much. She is an international force — with a strong presence on social media and part of the team that presented wrestling’s case to the IOC.
These are just three names that barely scratch the surface of defining an Olympic sport that dates back to the first modern Olympic Games in 1896 and is practiced and organized in 180 affiliated countries from around the world. It had 71 nations competing at the Olympic Games in London, and 29 different nations won medals.
Canada has had an Olympic finalist in each of the last six Olympic Games.
The IOC’s decision Sunday to include wrestling on the Olympic programme is an important reminder that the power of sport goes far beyond just the wrestling mat.