Freestyle Wrestling in the 2012 Summer Olympic Games

Despite the name "freestyle," Olympic freestyle wrestling is a highly technical combat sport in which athletes use their entire bodies to force their opponents to the ground (or mat, in this case) in a controlled fashion. The goal is to push an opponent's shoulders against the mat and hold them there.

One of the oldest sports, wrestling was part of the first-ever Olympic Games, but freestyle wrestling didn't enter the picture until the 1904 St. Louis Games. Women's wrestling wasn't added to the Olympic Games until the 2004 Athens Games.

In the 2012 London Summer Olympics, male freestyle wrestlers will compete in seven medal events and female freestylers will compete in four medal events at one of the arenas in the ExCel London venue. Each country can enter only one athlete in each weight class.

The Olympics features two wrestling styles:

  • Freestyle: Athletes can use their entire bodies.

  • Greco-Roman: Athletes may use their upper bodies and arms only.

The following table provides a list of the freestyle events, both men's and women's, and the dates on which they are competed. Each event has a qualifications round, a round of 16, quarter-finals, semi-finals, and a bronze medal round.

Men's Event Date Women's Event Date
55 kilogram freestyle Aug. 10 48 kilogram freestyle Aug. 8
60 kilogram freestyle Aug. 11 55 kilogram freestyle Aug. 9
66 kilogram freestyle Aug. 12 63 kilogram freestyle Aug. 8
74 kilogram freestyle Aug. 10 72 kilogram freestyle Aug. 9
84 kilogram freestyle Aug. 11
96 kilogram freestyle Aug. 12
120 kilogram freestyle Aug. 11

Here's a look at what happens during an Olympic freestyle wrestling match (or bout):

  • What wrestlers do: Wrestlers meet each other within a 9-meter circle centered within an octagonal 12 meter x 12 meter mat and try to force their opponent's shoulders to the mat.

  • How long it lasts: Each bout consists of up to three periods; the first two period last for no more than two minutes; the third period can last longer than two minutes to determine the winner; and a 30-second break is taken between periods.

  • Scoring and winning: To win a period, an athlete must perform a grand amplitude hold, which is worth five points; score two holds worth three points; or gain a six-point lead over their opponent. Wrestlers who win two periods win the bout. Obviously, the third period is not needed if a wrestler wins the first two periods. Wrestlers can win a bout by pinning his or her opponent.

    A pin, a fall, or pinning an opponent, results when a wrestler forces both of his or her opponent's shoulders to the mat long enough for the referee, the judge, and the mat chairman to reach an agreement that the wrestler is pinned and "controlled." This is somewhere between 0.5 and 2 seconds.

    Freestyler wrestlers also can use their legs to defend against an attack or to avoid being tripped or lifted off the mat.

    Double headlocks are forbidden in women's freestyle but not in men's freestyle wrestling.

To find out more information about freestyle wrestling, see the sport's governing body, the International Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles (FILA).

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