As I mentioned yesterday, today was the National Wrestling Championship. My boyfriend wrestled in the 74kg (163lbs) weight category and it was a fun nerve wrecking afternoon. =)
The Championship was held at a school 35 minutes away from home, in the coldest pavilion I’ve been since he started to wrestle a few years ago. They usually organize the National in just one day, with every category, from juniors to seniors, both men and women. But for some reason, this year they divided it in two weekends. Today it was time for men’s cadets and seniors.
Both of his matches were nerve wrecking for me. Since he injured his neck two weeks ago in the Regionals, that image of him laying down on the mat comes to my head quite frequently. The matches went well even though he lost one. He is in great shape but he was having some trouble breathing due to a cold. He wasn’t happy but I’m proud of him as I’ve always been and always will. =)
One thing that really stood out in this event was the decaying of Portuguese Wrestling. For the past few years, this sport has lost a lot. Clubs, coaches, athletes, support. But I remember feeling a great vibe in the people supporting the athletes in last years championship. People were really into the matches, specially the final matches of each category which were amazingly good. This year I didn’t feel that. There were less people watching, and the matches were a bit bland. And during each medals ceremony there wasn’t that much clapping even.
I get it. From the athlete’s family point of view, at least. They sacrifice a lot to get to a good level, even international level, and when they do, there’s no reward – or if there is, it’s so little it’s laughable. Only people that don’t know or live with a wrestler think that this is an easy life. It isn’t. They make sacrifices like any other elite athletes. They do it for the love of sport and competition. But no one can live just from this. There are a few professional wrestlers in Portugal right now, and they have other jobs to make ends meet.
I can’t explain it, but I left the pavilion today with the same feeling that my boyfriend had: if nothing’s done, Wrestling in Portugal will eventually die. And it probably won’t take long.