British wrestlers given places for London 2012

London: British wrestlers will compete at next year`s London Olympics after being handed three Host Nation qualification places, the British Olympic Association (BOA) said.

Freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling, in which Britain last won a medal at the 1984 Los Angeles Games, is one of several sports that the host country will be able to enter athletes who otherwise may not have otherwise qualified by right.

Handball, water polo, table tennis, beach volleyball, indoor volleyball and basketball will also have British interest in London next year after taking advantage of Home Nation places offered.

"We are delighted with the faith shown in British wrestling," performance director Shaun Morley said in a statement. "It fully endorses our year on year development as a sport, but also the consistent improvement of our elite wrestlers, some of who are now regularly among the medal contenders at international events."

The BOA`s decision to take up Host Nation places is still subject to British wrestlers meeting the British Wrestling Federation`s Olympic selection criteria.

"Obviously we are very pleased with the BOA`s decision," British Wrestling chief executive Colin Nicholson told reporters.

"It`s very important that we have representation in the Games but we also need to ensure that we give a credible performance. We didn`t have any athletes in Beijing because of injury and that affected our funding.

"We`ve had a shoestring budget really but if we can get two in the top eight in London it will help our development towards (2016 Games hosts) Rio de Janeiro."

With only 800 or so competitive wrestlers in Britain, an influx from eastern Europe has helped raise the level.

Ukraine-born Yana Stadnik recently became the first British medallist at the European Championships for 21 years when she took the silver in the 48kg class.

"To be honest, when I go to the mat, I am wrestling for myself, but as I say, I am very settled here in Britain, and I am very proud to represent Britain at international competitions," Stadnik, whose brother Andrei won a silver for Ukraine in Beijing, told the Federation website.

Bureau Report

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