September 4, 2023
Let the Games begin – literally. Every 4 years the “Olympic Cycle” begins with the Wrestling World Championships. This year’s competition starts September 16th in Belgrade, Serbia.
A quick note. The qualification process, on the world level, determines which weight classes a country can send an athlete to the Olympics. For example, if Gable Steveson finishes in the top 5 at Worlds, then Team USA will have earned a spot (Quota) at 125 kg in men’s freestyle. Nationally our process of determining who that will be starts this December with Senior Nationals in Fort Worth and concludes with the Olympic Trials at Penn State in April 2024.
But I digress. So let’s get back to the subject at hand, qualifying for the Olympic Games in Paris 2024.
In Belgrade, the competition will take place in 10 weight classes with 6 of those (in each of the three styles) being “Olympic” weight classes.
The Olympic weight classes for wrestling are as follows:
Men’s Freestyle: 57kg, 65kg, 74kg, 86kg, 97kg, 125kg
Women’s Freestyle: 50kg, 53kg, 57kg, 62kg, 68kg, 76kg
Greco-Roman: 60kg, 67kg, 77kg, 87kg, 97kg, 130kg
In phase one (Worlds), 90 quotas are earned. The “Fortunate Five” include the Gold, Silver, the 2 Bronze medal winners, plus the winner of the “true fifth” place match. The two Bronze medal match losers will vie for that all important 5th quota.
Phase two is the continental qualification phase, at the four regional competitions listed below, where 144 quotas are up for grabs for those countries who have not yet qualified one of the weight classes. The finalists (1st and 2nd place) qualify the weight class for their country. A relatively straight forward round and one where where teams will look to earn quotas in a style that they may not excel in on the world level.
Pan American Olympic Qualifier (Acapulco, Mexico, March 1-3)
African Olympic Qualifier (Alexandria, Egypt, March 22-24)
European Olympic Qualifier (Baku, Azerbaijan, April 4-7)
Asian Olympic Qualifier (Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, April 19-21)
Are you still with me? Phase three wraps up the Olympic qualification process. Istanbul will host the Last Chance Qualifier May 9th through the 12th. This pressure packed event will award quotas to the top 2 in each weight class plus the winner of the “true 3rd” place match.
We will follow up with details about how the U.S. decides who our Olympic athletes will be. Until then, enjoy the 2023 UWW Wrestling World Championships.