We are now nine months on from Kurt Angle's original announcement that he would try out for the 2012 Olympic Games. At the time, he was the Olympic hero who had cried wolf once too many times, having teased going into mixed martial arts on numerous occasions ever since he was released by WWE in the summer of 2006 over concerns about his health and mental wellbeing, stemming from serious drug problems and his drive to work through nagging injuries. In the amateur wrestling community the story was completely ignored, thinking that the banged up 43 year old full time pro wrestler was just talking about this for a cheap publicity stunt, not believing he would actually go through with it. However, given that he is still training hard and has toned down his wrestling style to the point that he hasn't had a memorable match in months, it looks certain that he will be competing at the U.S. Olympic wrestling trials on April 21-22 in Iowa City, IA.
So it was surprising to hear Angle being completely realistic about his 2012 Olympic chances when speaking to Jon Barbuti of the BBC, who obviously had little knowledge about wrestling (the statement that "almost nobody has made the transition from amateur to pro" was laughable in its inaccuracy) and would have been easy for him to fool:
What are my chances of making the team? Slim to none, I'm not going to lie but, if I can look you in the eye and say I have a chance that's more than enough. That's worth training five hours a day to get ready for the trials and for the biggest event of all, the Olympics.
Angle admitted that his greatest advantages are his experience and reputation, thinking that his credentials may throw his younger competitors off their games:
I don't think it's fair. I can't say it's not fair but if you pull the Kurt Angle card you've got a former world champion, a former Olympic champion so it's not exactly the best pick. It's a tough thing they'll have to accept thinking 'gosh, why do I have to wrestle one of the greatest wrestlers in US history in the first round?'
But will that count for much given his lack of youth and the wearied state his body is in? Unsurprisingly the people closest to him are much more concerned about him getting through this in one piece than cheerleading him on:
I've had my ex-wife Karen tell me you're not fit for it. I've had family members say they're concerned about my neck, my mother's always worried and even some of my brothers aren't taking me seriously. Last time they were with me everywhere I went, now they're like 'nah he's not really doing it'. I've been doing it by the grace of God as I don't have near the support I had back then.
Really Angle should have knocked the Olympic aspirations in the head when he tore his hamstring in training before Bound For Glory, but as that didn't put him off, I wish him luck and a safe progress to the trials. It would be a bitter pill for Angle to swallow if another injury forced him to pull out at the last minute or he crashed to defeat in the first round to a rank outsider. Look out for coverage of his showing in two months time here on Cageside Seats. Fellow Cagesiders, how do you think he will fare?