Australia returns to Olympic wrestling with two picks

Jayden Lawrence and Georgii Okorokov have a far longer drought in their sights after returning Australia to Olympic wrestling.

Lawrence and Okorokov will compete in freestyle at Paris after Australia had no wrestling entrants for the Tokyo Games.

Lawrence will finally make his Olympic debut after missing selection for the last three Olympics.

Australia has never won a wrestling gold medal at the Games and never finished on the podium in Greco-Roman.

Dick Garrard (silver) and Jim Armstrong (bronze) were Australia’s last medalists at the 1948 London Olympics, while Eddie Scarf won bronze at the 1932 Los Angeles Games.

It’s an exclusive club that Lawrence and Okorokov think they can join.

“In Paris I’m aiming to perform at my absolute best…. which for me means eyeing off a medal,” said Lawrence, 29, who will compete in the 86kg category.

Lawrence is an Oceania and Australian champion who won bronze at the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games.

Okorokov was 10th at the world championships two years ago and has won the last two Oceania titles.

“There is nothing in my mind except an Olympic medal,” said Okorokov, 27, who competes in the 65kg class.

Wrestling Australia president Andrew Kanatli said Lawrence and Okorokov had made it to Paris the hard way.

“They both qualified for the Paris Games through one of the toughest qualification systems via Africa, which very few Australians have achieved before,” he said.

“They exceeded the expectations of most people both here in Australia and within the international wrestling communities.

“They both made a statement in (qualifying) with first place in their divisions.”

Wrestling will be held at the Champ de Mars Arena in Paris from August 5-11.