From Wrestling to the Desktop: How Yuri Maier’s obsession with making his sport shine

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Yuri Mayer He was the best Argentine wrestler in history: he won bronze at the 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara and, with 13 podiums at the Pan American Championships, he is our country’s first medalist in his discipline. But injuries forced him to retire at the age of 27. The man from Corrientes, therefore, has decided to pour all the experience accumulated in his career into management. And now, at 33, he has an extremely busy schedule. “It’s hard for me to say no, because I see every project as an opportunity. And when I realize that, I’m working 17-hour days and I even forget to eat,” she says clarionin a brief pause in one of the many busy days of his life, before listing all his duties and occupations.

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Maier is the technical operational coordinator of the fight ENARD “A role that is a bit that of a national team coach”explains-, Collaborator of the Technical-Sports Commission of the Argentine Olympic Committee he was born in Argentine wrestling federationTechnical Manager of Pan American Wrestling ConfederationSports Director of the Association of Pan American Sports Confederations (ACODEPA), Member of the Technical Commission of Panama SportsSport and Development Officer of the International Federation of its sport, and Educator Leader of the program Athlete365 Career+ of the International Olympic Committee.

Wrestling and sport monopolize all his attention. Today he has his head on Pan American Games of Santiago 2023 and in various other projects and events in which he is involved; and, of course, already thinking Paris 2024. And in connection with the upcoming Olympics, there is one issue that worries him, like the entire Olympic movement: the possibility of Russian and Belarusian athletes taking part in the French rally, suspended for more than a year due to the war against Ukraine.

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"We have to think about how to make sure that the war affects the athletes as little as possible, who are the heart of the Olympic movement," Maier reflected.

“We have to think about how to make sure that the war affects the athletes as little as possible, who are the heart of the Olympic movement,” Maier reflected.

“You have to assume that no one sane can be in favor of a war. And, from there, think about how we can make this conflict affect the athletes as little as possible, who are the heart of the Olympic movement and sport,” reflects Maier. “The IOC is working hard to help Ukrainian athletes. Beyond the difficult moment they are experiencing, they are training and competing. But there are also Russians and Belarusians, who cannot compete. And this is a complex problem.”

“My personal opinion is that these athletes, who bear no responsibility for the conflict itself, are being denied two fundamental human rights – to play sport and to work. We must try not to mix sport with politics as much as possible Separate the Government Responsibility from Athletes Responsibility Ensure these rights and not discriminate against an athlete, who has no interference in what their government does or does not do, for holding a Russian or Belarusian passport. of a government is very questionable. It happens that on the other side there are many victims. What the people in Ukraine are suffering is very serious. It is very complicated”, continues the man from Corrientes.

Is neutrality the solution?

For athletes, neutrality is a solution, because it will allow them to compete. Whether it’s a solution that someone likes more or less depends on the perspective from which you look at it. In this situation, no decision will suit everyone. There is a lot of pressure from countries, especially from the BORN, who do not agree with such a possibility. But there are already federations that have started to make the issue more flexible. I hope that finally some sort of agreement or consensus can be found to use sport as a diplomatic tool, to help unite and seek a climate of harmony, even if that idea is a bit utopian.

Maier works and collaborates with ENARD, the COA, the Argentine, Pan American and International Wrestling Federations, ACODEPA, Panam Sports and the IOC.  Photo courtesy of Yuri Maier

Maier works and collaborates with ENARD, the COA, the Argentine, Pan American and International Wrestling Federations, ACODEPA, Panam Sports and the IOC. Photo courtesy of Yuri Maier

-Can you imagine Paris 2024 with Russian and Belarusian athletes?

-Actually, I can’t imagine the Games without Russians and Belarusians. Russia it’s still the third interested Most important CIO, behind US and China. If you talk about the Olympics, wrestling, gymnastics, boxing, weights… Russia is in all of them. Her absence would detract a lot from the competition. I hope it doesn’t come to this, because we are talking about the dreams of athletes who have trained and prepared for this all their lives. And I don’t see a strong enough justification for not being able to participate. I think the only justification for excluding an athlete is that she actively participated in the conflict. Or a situation like the gymnast who showed up with a “Z” on her clothes. But if the IOC decides to analyze athletes’ posts on social networks one by one, the criteria will be highly questionable and will be another point of conflict. Because you also need to take into account that Russia is a democracy, but a different democracy, and athletes are sometimes under pressure. It is not easy to say no to Putin. It’s all very complex.

-Going back to Argentine sport, you’ve always said that ENARD marked a before and after. How much has changed for the Organization after the repeal of the cell phone tax that financed it?

-It was terrible. It was a very big change from a management point of view. They have lost what little autonomy they had and are now dependent on a game that comes out when it comes out. It was a bad decision. I don’t even understand what the logic behind it was, because it didn’t bother anyone, nor was it against anyone. For me it entered as a package of measures, in which no one noticed, and it happened. ENARD himself was killed.

-There have been many campaigns to recover that funding. Do you think it will be possible?

-I do not know. It took many years to create something like ENARD. Now it’s like starting from scratch. The entity works quite nimbly, but is limited in terms of resources. Going back to before will be difficult. Putting it on the political agenda is very complicated, with other priorities in the country, security, health, that people can make ends meet… But it is very difficult to work like this and think long-term.

The fight, for a medal in Santiago 2023

Although Yuri Maier collaborates when and how he can with all Argentine sports, his main focus is on promoting the development and growth of wrestling, to which he has been dedicated for almost 20 years of his life. With the Pan American Games in Santiago on the horizon, the man from Corrientes is working closely with ENARD and the Argentinean Federation to achieve one goal: to win another medal in that sport after twelve years.

“I am very optimistic. I think it’s very difficult for Argentina not to win a medal in the fight in Santiago. In Toronto 2015 we had a 50% chance of getting on the podium, in Lima 33%, today I think we have an 80% chance of winning a medal. In the Odesur of Asunción we got two golds, something that hadn’t been achieved since 2010, so we can see an improvement, but we have to see how it translates to Santiago, in a very different continental reality. Agostino Destribati, thanks to his level and skills, he can win a medal without depending on luck. Golden? There the possibilities are reduced. But everything will depend on your level of inspiration that day. When he’s healthy, he’s a danger to everyone,” Maier commented.

Although he also warned: “In terms of performance, the struggle in Argentina is quite stagnant. Not because they are not working enough, but because other countries are also working. We have also risen due to the deterioration of Venezuela. It happened in Asunción , although I don’t want to belittle the kids, we are working well with the adult team, with Agustín, Catriel MurielPan American Medal and Ricardo Baez, who also won gold in Asunción. But the day they’re gone, the replacement process will be very difficult.”

Source: Clarin

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