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Wrestling goes back as far human history does, and was once perhaps one of the centrepieces of all sporting competitions. There have been depictions of wrestling found on the walls of Ancient Egypt which were thought to have been painted as long as 5000 years ago.

Wrestling was one of the original sports in the programme of the ancient Olympic Games in Greece in 776 B.C., with the most famous competitor being the mighty Milon of Kroton who was a six-time champion in the 6th century BC.

While Greco-Roman was the ‘original’ style, freestyle wresting grew in popularity across Great Britain and the United States and took a firm hold because of its greater freedoms within the rules to tackle and subdue your opponent.


Olympic History

It was part of the first modern Olympic Games in Athens in 1896, with the inclusion of a competition in the Greco-roman style without any weight category specifications. There followed a short period when this sport was excluded. However, in 1908 Greco-roman wrestling returned to the programme of the Olympic Games. Meanwhile, free style was incorporated to the Olympic Games in 1904.

In September 2001 the International Olympic Committee took the following two decisions on Wrestling:

Inclusion of Women’s Wrestling in the Olympic Games 2004 competition programme, in four weight categories for the free style

Reduction of the weight categories for men from 16 to 14, in both Greco-roman and free style.


In greco-roman wrestling, holds are allowed from the waist up, while in free style holds are allowed on the whole body. Matches in both styles consist of two, three-minute parts, with a 30 second interval.

Wrestling Area

The wrestling area, or Tapis, is a square or octagonal mat measuring 12 m on each side. There are two concentric circles, in the middle of the mat, a small and a larger one. The large one has a diametre of 9 m, while the smaller one has a 7 m diameter and constitutes the "central wrestling area". The area formed between the smaller and larger circles is the "passive zone", which is red in colour and has a width of one metre.

The two diametrically opposite corners of the mat have the colours of the wrestling suits worn by the two opponents: red and blue.




Up to 55

from 55 to 60kg

from 60 to 66kg

from 66 to 74kg

from 74 to 84kg

from 84 to 96kg

from 96 to 120kg



Wrestling Suits

The two competing athletes appear at each end of the wrestling area, wearing full-body wrestling suits of a different colour (red and blue), in order for the referee to easily distinguish between them. Prior to the commencement of the match, it is determined which of the two athletes will wear the red and which will wear the blue wrestling suit. The name of the athlete with the red suit is announced first. It is obligatory for each athlete to bear the emblem of his country on the chest of his wrestling suit, and an abbreviation of his country's name with lettering measuring 10 x 10 cm on his back.

Piece of cloth

The athlete must bear a piece of cloth, for personal use during the bout.

Wrestling Boots

The contestants must wear wrestling boots that tie with laces around the ankles. Boots with built-up heels, rings or metal components of any sort are forbidden, as are soles with studs or nails.


Prior to participating in a match, the wrestlers are obliged to undergo medical tests. Then they are weighed and they enter a lottery procedure to determine the pairing of contesting athletes.


The refereeing group is comprised of the referee, the judge, the mat chairman and the inspector-controller. The match is managed by the referee, who is responsible for the maintenance of order on the mat, for the protection of the wrestlers from any possible unsporting actions, for keeping of rules and regulations and for respect of the overall sporting spirit. The referee uses his whistle to signal the start and end of a match and allocates points for the holds of the wrestlers.

The judge, if he agrees with the recommendation of the referee, registers the number of points awarded after a certain wrestling move and communicates the result, on a board, to the spectators and wrestlers. It is also the responsibility of the judge to point out to the referee the passive wrestler and a fall.

The referee and the judge (second referee) must agree, in order for a point or points to be allocated to a wrestler. In case of disagreement, and only in that case, the recommendation - decision of the mat chairman prevails. Under no circumstances can the mat chairman voice his opinion first.

In the Olympic Games and the World Championships, a member of the refereeing committee or a senior category referee is appointed as mat inspector-controller. The inspector-controller does not mediate in the management of the match. In the case that the reconsideration of the result of a match is deemed necessary, the mat inspector controller confers with the mat chairman and if they end in agreement they announce the exact result.

FILA (the International Amateur Wrestling Association) evaluates the referees and classifies them internationally in four categories: A, B, C and E. Referees which belong to category E are those who referee at the Olympic Games.


The Match

During the course of a match, it is forbidden for wrestlers to have on them, or to wear; glasses, watches, rings, chains and other objects, which can cause injury to their opponents. Long nails, punching, biting, pinching, strangulation holds or dislocations are also forbidden, as is in fact any act in general, which can cause injury to the opponent. Finally, unsporting behaviour and arguing with the referee or opponent are strictly punished.


A match is judged on points or a fall, as follows:

A fall is called when a wrestler holds his opponent down with his back pinned to the mat for at least two seconds. The referee acknowledges and registers the fall (having first agreed with the judge or mat chairman) by blowing the whistle and simultaneously striking the mat with his hand.

A match can be judged on points when, during the course of a match, there are no falls. The wrestler who has been allocated the most points is declared winner. If, at any time, the difference in points between the contestants is more than 10, the game is stopped and the winner is the wrestler who holds the lead, due to a "technical fall" of his opponent.

At the end of the first three-minute half of the match, and if no wrestler has won a point, the 30-second interval follows and then the second half begins with the two wrestlers "tied" in the centre of the mat (in other words, they embrace each other around the chest, their hands clasped behind the back of their opponent in such a way that one hand passes over their opponent's shoulder and the other under their arm).

Upon the signal by the referee, each wrestler tries to throw his opponent down, thereby winning a point or points. In the case that one of the two does not comply with the regulations or breaks the clasp first, he is punished by the referee with one point and a warning.

If there is neither a fall nor a 10-point difference between the two wrestlers, the winner at the end of the match is the one who has scored the most points, with the minimum number of points being three. If, during the normal duration of the game, neither of the two athletes scores the minimum of three points, the match goes into extra time and ends when one of the wrestlers reaches three points.

If during extra time neither athlete reaches three points, then the score up to that point is taken into consideration. And if the wrestlers are tied in the score (eg. 0-0 or 1-1), then both the penalties and cautions imposed on them are taken into account, in order to reach a final result.

Specifically, technical points are awarded according to how difficult the hold was. The points are allocated as follows:

One point is awarded when there is a simple turnover, that is, throwing the athlete down with his chest on the mat.

Two points are awarded when a turnover is achieved which throws, even momentarily, the opponent with his back on the mat, putting him in the so-called dangerous position ("momentary bridge").

Three points are awarded when the wrestler holds the opponent in the so-called "bridge" position. This means that the opponent, though having fallen to the mat, has lifted his hips up from the ground, supporting himself with the head and soles of his feet. Three points are also awarded when the wrestler, in implementing a certain technique, lifts his opponent and throws him with his back on the mat, tracing a small arc in the process. ("Tight waist roll", "Double underhook hip throw").

Five points are awarded when the wrestler, implementing a certain technique, lifts his opponent and throws him down with his back on the mat, creating a large arc with his opponent's body. (“shoulder throw")



If one of the two athletes is not wrestling (a passive wrestler), preventing his opponent from applying a certain technique (eg. by avoiding him), then the referee, in agreement with the mat chairman, imposes a "warning". The passive athlete is placed at the centre of the mat, with his knees and hands on the mat (crouching position), while his opponent tries to bring him to the so-called dangerous position.

Our Results

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Athens 1896
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London 1908
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Stockholm 1912
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Berlin 1936
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London 1948
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