U.S. Olympics gold medalist Jordan Burroughs talks with NBC10 via Skype while waiting for a plane in Frankfurt, Germany. Feb. 12, 2013
Earlier today, the International Olympic Committee formally ended the dream of athletes from around the world. The IOC, announced that they would be removing wrestling starting with the 2020 Olympics.
"Wrestling is a staple for the Olympics. This is a shock to all of us," said U.S. Olympic gold medalist Jordan Burroughs.
Burroughs spoke to NBC10 today via Skype from an airport in Frankfurt, Germany, where he was traveling with members of the U.S. wrestling team en route to a wrestling match in Russia.
He described his reaction as "a little bit of angry mixed with sadness."
"I was thinking about wrestling in 2020. But, any thought I had about wrestling in 2020 is basically... well, I’ve got nothing now," Burroughs said.
The Sicklerville, NJ native has become the poster boy for US wrestling since winning the gold medal at the 2012 Olympics in London. He said that he and his teammates learned of the IOC's decision by watching the BBC News while in the airport.
Wrestling is one of the oldest of Olympic sports, making its Olympics debut in Athens in 1896.
Fans took to Twitter using the hashtag #SaveOlympicWrestling to protest the IOC's decision.
"I have envisioned myself winning an Olympic gold medal since I was 8 years old. #SaveOlympicWrestling," Tweeted Penn State wrestler David Taylor.
Taylor is the defending national champion at 165 lbs.
Burroughs acknowledged that people are likely looking to him for guidance.
"I think I can be a leader in this entire situation. I know a lot of people count on me and it’s huge. I don’t want to just sit back and watch the sport I’ve grown to love be done away with," he said.
The IOC executive board, meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland, acted after reviewing the 26 sports on the current Olympic program. Eliminating one sport allows the International Olympic Committee to add a new sport to the program later this year.
Wrestling will now join seven other sports in applying for inclusion in 2020. The others are a combined bid from baseball and softball, karate, squash, roller sports, sport climbing, wakeboarding and wushu. They will be vying for a single opening in 2020.
The IOC executive board will meet in May in St. Petersburg, Russia, to decide which sport or sports to propose for 2020 inclusion. The final vote will be made at the IOC general assembly in September in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
The last sports removed from the Olympics were baseball and softball, voted out by the IOC in 2005 and off the program since the 2008 Beijing Games. Golf and rugby will be joining the program at the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro
"It's not over with a graphic of the Olympic rings," Burroughs Tweeted, along with the word "Why?".
Wrestling combines freestyle and Greco-Roman disciplines. It had 11 medal events in freestyle and seven in Greco-Roman at last year's London Olympics.
"Everyone’s gathering together. I don’t think anything is final yet or set in stone. We are going to do as much as we can and try and lead a small rebellion to hopefully overturn this," Burroughs said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.