On August 9th 2012, Olga Butkevych became the first ever female to represent Great Britain in the Olympics. Olga achieved 11th place out of 19 Olympic qualifiers.
Olga Butkevych had a bye in her first qualifying round of the 55kg category. (Link to bracket). She then wrestled Lissette Alexandra Antes Castillo of Ecuador in the 1/8 Finals. This was a closely fought match, but it was lost over three rounds. Said Olga, “I felt like it was definitely my match and I should have won, but that’s sport.”
It was a narrow defeat, but then the victor Antes Castillo went on to a her own narrow defeat by Jackeline Renteria Castillo of Columbia – also over three rounds.
Renteria Castillo was, in turn, narrowly defeated by Tonya Lynn Verbeek of Canada, a match requiring a draw for the clinch to decide the second bout winner.
So, in this sort of company, matches are so close that any one of these wrestlers could have ended up winning the group. Veebeek went on to claim Silver and Renteria Castillo Bronze.
Overall, Japanese westlers claimed gold in three out of the four available female weight classes. Russia gained the fourth.
Both Olga and Shaun Morley, Performance Director, were amazed by the fantastic reception she got from the 10,000 strong crowd both before and after her match. Said Shaun, “It was fantastic to see our athlete supported in that way.”
“There were so many people here to support me and I’m proud,” Butkevych said. She added “I deeply regret that I was not able to deliver a performance to match the support.”
In a boost to wrestling in the UK, discussions are progressing well on retaining the London 2012 wrestling mats, currently only rented by LOCOG, after the Games. FILA has generously offered to assist on a match funded basis.
There is now the great opportunity of the London legacy to transform young people’s health and self discipline, get people participating in sport and raising the profile of one of the original Olympic disciplines.