|Nenad Lalovic - President, FILA|
|Profile of the week|
Friday, 14 June 2013 15:45
Nenad Lalovic, from Belgrade, Serbia , was elected as the seventh president of FILA, the international federation of wrestling, at a special Congress in Moscow on May 18, 2013.
Lalovic had been serving as Acting President since February 16, 2013, after the resignation of FILA President Raphael Martinetti. His term will run until September 2014, the remainder of the current term. He will then be eligible to run for a six-year term as FILA president.
The 55-year old Lalovic joined the FILA Bureau in 2006 and was re-elected in 2012. He’s the former president of the Serbian Wrestling Federation and served on the Bureaus of CELA, the European Wrestling Federation, and the Serbian Olympic Committee.
Wrestling was controversially dropped from the list of core sports at the Olympic Games and had to re-enter the bidding process. During the SportAccord Convention wrestling was kept on by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) along with baseball/softball and squash. All three will learn their fate in September at the IOC Session in Buenos Aires.
You have recently been appointed President of FILA at a crucial time in the sport’s history. What are your main duties as President?
My main duty is to run the actual affairs and tournaments. We have a lot of tournaments coming up including the Mediterranean Games and all the continental championships. Then we follow that with the junior competitions. But at the same time we are applying the new rules which is a challenge. The only competition that will not be shown with the new rules is the Mediterranean Games because there was not enough time to implement all the changes and make it technically possible. We have to show that we can implement these new rules in time for Buenos Aires.
When the IOC removed wrestling from the Olympics and placed you in the contenders list, just how big of a blow was this to wrestling and were you surprised?
Yes I was surprised because I had not heard the rumours about us being cut before. On the other side of things though it probably is not a big surprise. Our federation was asleep, we were not improving our sport as fast as modern times require. We didn’t take into consideration the requirements of the media and the TV. You probably did not speak to us before the IOC cut. We were not known by the media and this is the result. Now we are reversing the situation and working hard by making changes in the governance of the federation. We will have a new bureau and now we have to make it all work. We have to show some results.
Although it was disappointing to be cut by the IOC, you speak about all these improvements and how you were ‘asleep’ before, do you think being dropped was actually a blessing in disguise?
Yes this is a lesson for all the sports though, not just wrestling. We all have to follow the requirements of the IOC, the media and of course the spectators. Everyone has to make their sports attractive and it is not easy. If you think about the changes volleyball made a couple of years ago with a small rule change they became very attractive, immediately. There are also so many challenges for spectators and young people in life today. They have video games and the internet, which if used in the correct way by sport may attract spectators, but if not you will lose your audience. The times are much more risky than before.
At London 2012 there seemed to be a lack of exposure for wrestling. Is this one of the reasons you feel that the IOC dropped the sport?
Well the rules were not understandable for the spectators, they were too complicated. The interference of the referees were in accordance to the rules but it didn’t help the viewer. Now we want to reverse this. We want the spectators to know what is going on immediately which was a problem before and is a very important thing we get right. I can say that the presentation of matches to the media were bad as well and we have to work on this.
We are not well known enough either. This summer we have a Japanese girl (Saori Yoshida) who became three times Olympic champion. She is very well known in Japan but not outside of the country and things like this need to change.
You have introduced rule changes as a part of your revamp of the sport that will be put to the test at the junior championships in August. With the IOC decision in September, is it absolutely vital the changes run smoothly in August?
It will run smoothly, we have many countries who have already applied the rules in their national championships so that is not a problem. The matches will be faster, less protests and it is understandable immediately who the winner is and why!