Wrestling is recognised as one of the longest practiced sports – perhaps only losing to Athletics. There are records of fights dating back to 3,000 BC, and the sport was part of the Olympic Games of Antiquity.
To the Greeks, Wrestling had the status of a science and was the most important element of training among young men. They fought naked, with their bodies covered in olive oil and a thin layer of sand to protect them from the heat and cold. The first to make their opponent fall down, no matter how, was considered the winner.
The first Wrestling discipline in the Olympic programme was Greco-Roman Wrestling, present at the 1896 Games, the first in the Modern Era, held in Athens, Greece. Except in the 1900 edition in Paris, the sport has always been present at the Olympics. Freestyle Wrestling appeared in 1904, in St. Louis, although it only featured participants from the United States.
Since the Antwerp 1920 Games, in Belgium, the two disciplines of Wrestling have been present in the Olympic programme. Women’s categories were added at the 2004 Games in Athens, but only for Freestyle Wrestling.
Greco-Roman and Freestyle Wrestling have the same objective: to immobilise the opponent with his back to the floor. The difference is that, in Greco-Roman, participants can only use their arms and trunk to attack and immobilise their adversary, while in the second participants can also use their legs. Low punches, strangling, sticking a finger in the eye and hair pulling are all prohibited.
Fights take place on an octagonal mat measuring 12 x 12 m, and the combat area has a diameter of 9m. Each Bout lasts two periods of 3 minutes with a 30-second break. The winner is declared by the addition of the points in both periods. Technical superiority of 8 points in Greco-Roman and 10 points in Freestyle automatically leads to victory. The fall stops automatically the match whatever the period.