Press Conference, U.S. Olympic Team Trials For Wrestling

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Gary Abbott (USA Wrestling)

At Reunion Arena Press Center, Dallas, Texas, June 21, 11:00 a.m.    U.S. Greco-Roman Olympic Head Coach Dan Chandler, Minneapolis, Minn.    "This is what we have been shooting for during the last three or four years. In Greco-Roman, we qualified all of our weight classes for the Olympics at the Pan American Championships in Cali, Colombia. Now we turn to deciding on our team. It will be a great competition. We're excited to let them get at it."    "The most obvious effect of a two-day tournament is what it means to the guys in the Challenge Tournament. In the past, it was a one-day Challenge Tournament and it was a meat grinder. You go hard all day, then you go two of three with the No. 1 guy the next day. Not that people didn't come out of the Challenge Tournament and win in the past, but it was very difficult. The athletes will be more rested and stronger. It will be more to their advantage."    "As the Olympic coach, we have athletes that we have been coaching for the last 3-8 years. Here, we can't be their corner coaches. We will be silently rooting for our group of athletes. There will be a lot of emotion involved, but we can't show it."    U.S. Olympic Freestyle Co-Head Coach Greg Strobel, Bethlehem, Pa.    "This is my fifth Olympic Trials as a coach. In my first Trials, back in 1984, we had two World Champions trying our for the team, and they were in the same weight class. We were excited about that. This year, we have five World Champions trying out for the team. The depth of the U.S. wrestling program has grown expodentially. One of the reasons has been the resident athlete programs."    "This year at the nationals we had a changing of the guard. Five of the 1999 World Team members did not win our national championships. There is a major advantage for the national champions and they are expected to go on and make the team. This event will set up our team for Sydney. It will be exciting and you are in for a treat."    "We will see better wrestling because of the two-day challenge tournament. They won't be as fatigued. They won't be quite as beat up. It will be even more exciting."    "Brandon Slay is just two matches away. He's the No. 1 guy. He has to win two matches and has three matches to do it. He's done all the right things. He went to the University of Pennsylvania and had a good career. He lost to Joe Williams at the NCAA finals when they were in college. After that, Brandon went to the U.S. Olympic Training Center and got much better. He really has gotten good turning people in the par terre. He has raised the bar. I saw Joe Williams at the World Championships and I didn't think anybody would challenge him this year. I was a bit surprised when Brandon upset him at the Nationals. But Brandon is in a drivers seat."    2000 Greco-Roman National Champion Quincey Clark, New Brighton, Minn., Minnesota Storm   85kg/187.25 lbs.    "I didn't change my training for this event, but I did train a little bit longer. I won't have to wrestle until Saturday, so I'm in good shape. My dieting was a little more stringent. I wanted to put on some weight and be a little bit bigger for when I wrestle. I'm feeling nice and healthy and I have no injuries. That will be important going into the tournament."    "I'm not going to be sitting around the next few days and get stale. There won't be any surprises. I will be sharp."    2000 Greco-Roman National Champion  Rulon Gardner, Colorado Springs, Colo., Sunkist Kids  130 kg/286 lbs.    "I practice the same every day. It was the same as I got ready for the Nationals, the Pan American Championships and the Olympic Trials.  I try to get one or two matches a day during practice and try to stay healthy. I'm here to have some fun."    "I'm in such good shape, I could wrestle for three days. However, in the challenge tournament, it's sudden death. If you lose one match, you don't go to the Olympics. My goal is I have two matches. If I win the two matches, I go to the Olympics."    "For me, it's great to mingle Greco-Roman with freestyle. People will see what U.S. wrestling is all about. There will be a little added pressure with all the crowds. There may be an opponent who is the crowd favorite. With me, I just have to go out, be focused and wrestle. The crowd shouldn't bother me. One thing, my coach always told me. He says the crowd likes me. So, I just go out and perform like they are cheering for me."    2000 Freestyle National Champion Lincoln McIlravy, Iowa City, Iowa, Gateway WC  69 kg/152 lbs.    "My preparation is the same for any event. The fact is that this is the most important event in my life. I have a confidence that is inspired by my work ethic. I bumped up the intensity from after the National Open. The fact is that the match is 0-0 when I step on the mat. It doesn't matter what happens the previous two days. It matters what happens in the next six minutes."    2000 Freestyle National Champion Melvin Douglas, Mesa, Ariz., Sunkist Kids  97 kg/213.75 lbs.    "I did something different. I actually conditioned this year. I have a reputation, that I am never in shape. I have only two matches - I hope I only have two. I was the last one to make weight at the last Olympic Trials and it was really close. I'm going to make weight, sit back, relax and hope my opponents get beat up in the Challenge Tournament. Anything can happen. I stayed at the Olympic Training Center for over a month and got into shape. I got tired of people saying if I got into shape, I'd do better. I'm ready."