AN East Lancashire wrestling coach has labelled the International Olympic Committee’s decision to axe the sport ahead of the 2020 Games as ‘a disgrace’.

Allan Clarkin, a 60-year-old wrestling coach who trains people at Black Knights Gym, in Burnley, was reacting to the shock move by the IOC.

Wrestling has been included at every Olympic Games but one since the Games were reintroduced in 1896, and the news to drop it comes as a great disappointment to Mr Clarkin, who has been coaching for 31 years.

“Removing wrestling from the Olympics is a disgrace,” he said.

“The training required by these athletes is incredible.

“Perhaps if there was more TV coverage for it during the Olympics, people would have seen what it is all about.”

Mr Clarkin believes what makes wrestling such a unique sport is that is has the potential to defy age restrictions.

“In a few days I will be 61 and will be able to carry on my sport for many more years to come. This does not apply to many other sports.

“I think the IOC has made a huge mistake,” he added. “They should keep wrestling in the Olympics.”

However, the IOC has since moved to defend the controversial decision.

IOC member and head of the organisation’s finance commission, Richard Carrion said: “It was always going to be a painful decision.

“No matter what we do, it will be criticised by someone.”

A spokeswoman for King George’s Hall, which held its annual American Wrestling Extravaganza earlier this month, said the sport was very popular.

Almost 700 people flocked to the Blackburn venue for the wrestling event, which was a great success.

She said: “It’s mainly young boys who watch it on television that come along, and after the show they get to meet the wrestlers and they really enjoy that extra interaction.

“We’ve already booked it again for 2014.”