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From wrestling to the desktop: how Yuri Maier's obsession to make his sport shine again was born


He was the best Argentine wrestler in history, but injuries forced him to retire at the age of 27. It was there that his new passion for leadership was born: "When I realized it, I worked 17 hours and I even forgot to eat."

Yuri Maier

was the best Argentine wrestler in history: he won bronze at the 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara and, with 13 podium finishes in Pan American championships, he is the top medalist in our country in his discipline.

But injuries forced him to retire at age 27.

The man from Corrientes, then, decided to transfer all the experience accumulated in his career to the leadership.

And now, at 33, he has an extremely busy schedule.

"It's hard for me to say no, because I see each project as an opportunity. And when I realize it, I'm working 17 hours a day and I even forget to eat," he tells Clarín, in a short break on one of the


days hectic moments of his life, before listing all his positions and occupations.

Maier is ENARD

's Operational Technical Wrestling Coordinator


"A role that is something like a manager of national teams"

, he explains-, Collaborator of the Technical-Sports Commission of the

Argentine Olympic Committee

and the

Argentine Wrestling Federation

, Technical Manager of the

Pan American Wrestling Confederation

, Sports Manager of the Association of Pan American Sports Confederations (


), Member of the Technical Commission of

Panam Sports

, Sports and Development Officer of the International Federation of his sport, and Leader of Educators of the

Athlete365 Career+

program of the

International Olympic Committee

The fight and the sport monopolize all his attention.

Today he has his head set on the

Santiago 2023 Pan American Games

and on various other projects and events in which he is involved;

And of course, he is already thinking about

Paris 2024


And in relation to the next Olympic Games, there is an issue that worries him, like the entire Olympic movement: the possibility of the participation in the French event of Russian and Belarusian athletes, suspended for more than a year due to the war against Ukraine.

"You have to think about how to make the war affect athletes as little as possible, who are the heart of the Olympic movement," Maier reflected.

"You have to start from the premise that

no one in their right mind can be in favor of a war

. And, from there, think about how we can do so that this conflict affects athletes as little as possible, who are the heart of the Olympic movement and sport", reflects Maier.

"The IOC is working a lot to help Ukrainian athletes. Beyond the hard time they are experiencing, they are training and competing. But there are also Russians and Belarusians, who are not being able to compete. And that is a complex issue."

"My personal opinion is that two basic human rights - to practice sport and to work - are being denied to these athletes, who have no responsibility for the conflict itself. We must try not to mix sport with politics, to the extent that as possible. Separate the responsibility of the government from the responsibility of the athletes. Guarantee those rights and not discriminate against an athlete, who has no interference in what their government does or does not do, for carrying a Russian or Belarusian passport. use that as a method of pressure or sanction against 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 is a solution that someone likes more or less depends on the optics from which you look at it.

In this situation, no decision is going to go down well with everyone.

There is a lot of pressure from countries, especially from


, that do not agree with this possibility.

But there are already federations that began to make the issue more flexible.

I hope that finally some kind 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 Yuri Maier

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

-Actually, I can't imagine the Games without Russians and Belarusians.


is still the third


 most important IOC, behind the United States and China.

If you talk about the Olympic Games, wrestling, gymnastics, boxing, weights... Russia is in all of them.

The absence of it would take away a lot of value from the competition.

I hope it doesn't come to that, because we are talking about the dreams of athletes who trained and prepared their whole lives for this.

And I don't see a strong enough justification for them not being able to participate.

I believe that the only justification for leaving an athlete out is that he has actively participated in the conflict.

Or a situation like the gymnast who appeared with the "Z" on his clothes.

But if the IOC decides to analyze the athletes' posts on social networks one by one, the criteria will be highly questionable and will be another point of conflict.

Because you also have to take into account that Russia is a democracy,

but a different democracy, and sometimes the athletes are under a lot of pressure.

It is not easy to say no to Putin.

It is all very complex.

-Going back to Argentine sports, you always said that ENARD marked a before and after.

How much did it change for the Entity after the repeal of the cell phone tax that financed it?

-It was terrible.

It was a very big change handling-wise.

They lost the little autonomy they had and now they depend on a game that comes out when it comes out.

It was a very bad decision.

I don't even understand what was the logic behind it, because it didn't bother anyone, nor was anyone against it.

For me, it entered as a package of measures, in which nobody noticed, and it happened.

ENARD itself was killed.

-There were many campaigns to recover that financing.

Do you think it will be possible?

-I don't know.

It took many years to create something like the ENARD.

Now it's like starting from scratch.

The entity works in a fairly agile way, but it is limited in terms of resources.

Going back to before is going to 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 in the long term.

The fight, for a medal in Santiago 2023

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Yuri Maier (@yurimaier)

Although Yuri Maier collaborates when and how he can with all Argentine sports, he is focused above all on promoting the development and growth of wrestling, to which he dedicated himself 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 Argentine Federation to achieve one goal: to win another medal in that sport after twelve years.

"I am very optimistic.

I think it is very difficult for Argentina not to win a medal fighting in Santiago

. In Toronto 2015 we had a 50 percent chance of getting on the podium, in Lima, maybe 33. Today I think we have 80 percent. percent of adding a medal. In the Odesur of Asunción we got two golds, something that had not been achieved since 2010, so it is an improvement, but we have to see how that translates in Santiago, in a very different continental reality. Agustín


Due to his level and his own ability, he can win a medal without depending on luck. Gold? That's where the chances are reduced. But everything will depend on his level of inspiration that day. When he's well, he's a danger to everyone," Maier said.

Although he also warned: "In terms of performance, in Argentina the fight is quite stagnant. Not because they are not working enough, but because the other countries are also working. We also went up because of how Venezuela deteriorated. That happened in Asunción, although I don't want to detract from the boys. We are working well with the adult team, with Agustín,

Catriel Muriel

, Pan American medalist, and

Ricardo Báez

, who also won gold in Asunción. But the day they are gone, it will be very the replacement process difficult.

Source: clarin

All news articles on 2023-03-22

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