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Olympic Trials back in Iowa City a ‘no-brainer’

BY JORDAN HANSEN | APRIL 28, 2015 5:00 AM

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When USA Wrestling announced last week that the 2016 Olympic Trials would be held in Iowa City on April 8-10, the decision was a long time in the making.

In fact, the ball began rolling shortly after Iowa hosted the most-attended Olympic wrestling trials ever in 2012.

“It was one of the most successful events we’ve ever had,” USA Wrestling spokesman Gary Abbott said. “Conversations started shortly after about whether it would make sense for Iowa City to host again.

“There was certainly interest in Iowa City to do it, and from our end, we were pleased with the team we had there and the effort they had in 2012.”

In fact, unlike in previous years, there was no formal bidding process for the event. Conversation never stopped between USA Wrestling and the Iowa City area as oficials continued to hammer out details and the logistics of having the event in Carver-Hawkeye once again.

Abbott said the Iowa City/Coralville Area Convention & Visitors Bureau was heavily involved in the process, as was head Iowa wrestling coach Tom Brands.

In fact, Brands was one of the major representatives to USA Wrestling for the University of Iowa’s interests.

“We wanted it, and I think USA Wrestling understands that this is a great community to showcase the sport,” Brands said. “With all the benefits of the community and the level that we put on a wrestling show that we put on, it was a no-brainer.”

All parties involved had to wait until the international schedule was released in order to set the dates, but it seems as if Iowa City getting the bid was never in a whole lot of doubt.

While tickets to the event have yet to go on sale, getting people in seats should not be a problem, considering Iowa has led the nation in college wrestling attendance for nine-straight years.

“It’s been proven that Iowa City is the best place in the United States to have wrestling events as far as live crowds go,” Brands said. “Last time, in 2012, we had four-straight sellouts, and that’s what we’re looking to do again.”

With Iowa having produced five Olympic gold medalists over the course of its history, the tradition is deep in the program.

The last — Brands — won gold in the 1996 games and has been a major voice for the sport. With the Olympics being near the top of the accomplishments that a wrestler can have, it’s no wonder that they are something that Brands impresses heavily on his athletes.

“The guys that we recruit, the best ones, have aspirations to be national, world, and Olympic champions,” Brands said. “The mentality to be the best, its prevalent and it’s a common denominator in all of these guys.”

Follow @JordyHansen for news, updates, and analysis about the Iowa wrestling team.


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