Greco-Roman Wrestling in the 2012 Summer Olympic Games - dummies

Greco-Roman Wrestling in the 2012 Summer Olympic Games

If you’re anticipating the Greco-Roman wrestling matches of the 2012 London Olympic Games to provide the type of spectacle that you find in professional wrestling matches in the United States, you might want to adjust your thinking. If U.S.-style “pro wrestling” makes you think of The Dirty Yellow Dog, Hulk Hogan, or even Kelly Kelly, you might be disappointed to find very little trash talking going on.

Olympic Greco-Roman wrestling is a highly technical combat sport in which athletes must exhibit much more than physical strength. They must follow regulations regarding the types of holds that are allowed and be able to react quickly to their opponent’s moves in order to avoid being pinned. And they must practice some strategy to come out “on top.”

One of the oldest sports, Greco-Roman (also spelled Graeco-Roman) wrestling was part of the first-ever Olympic Games, the first modern Games in 1896, and a feature of the Summer Olympics since 1908. In the 2012 London Summer Olympics, wrestlers will compete in seven 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:

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

  • Freestyle: Athletes can use their entire bodies.

Women will compete in wrestling at the Olympic Games as well, but not in the Greco-Roman events. Women compete in freestyle events only.

The following table provides a list of the Greco-Roman events 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.

Event Date
55 kilogram Greco-Roman Aug. 5
60 kilogram Greco-Roman Aug. 6
66 kilogram Greco-Roman Aug. 7
74 kilogram Greco-Roman Aug. 5
84 kilogram Greco-Roman Aug. 6
96 kilogram Greco-Roman Aug. 7
120 kilogram Greco-Roman Aug. 6

Here’s a look at what happens during an Olympic Greco-Roman 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; each period lasts for no more than two minutes, 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 opponent.

    A pin, a fall, or pinning an opponent, results when a wrestler forces both of his 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.

    Because a Greco-Roman wrestler cannot use his legs, he must rely more on throws than his freestyle counterpart. Without using his legs, he is unable to trip an opponent or hook his legs. Athletes cannot use their legs for defense either and must wrestle from standing without resting the top of his dead against an opponent’s chest. (This is illegal contact.)

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