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Oliver wins gold medal at Veterans World Championship


Last updated 8/28/2007 at Noon

oach Roye Oliver won a gold medal at wrestling’s Veterans World Championship tournament in Istanbul, Turkey.

The Veterans World Championship tournament, which this year was held August 2-5 in Istanbul, is for wrestlers over 35 years old. Oliver, who will be 51 in November, competed in the 85 kilogram (187.5 pounds) weight division of the 51-55 age division.

“God gave me the power and the will to do this,” Oliver said.

Oliver had trained for four months for the tournament. This year’s tournament is the first in the Veterans World Championship for Oliver, who became the Fallbrook High School head wrestling coach in 2006. Oliver noted that hands-on wrestling would not only sharpen his coaching techniques but also inspire his student-athletes.

Oliver began training two months before the U.S. nationals. “There’s a lot of dedication, a lot of work,” he said.

Many of the competitors at the Veterans World Championship have been training for years. “A lot of the athletes come to this tournament, and they take it real seriously,” Oliver said. “If you don’t prepare and train well for this, you’ll have problems.”

Oliver also had to raise money for the expenses to travel to Turkey. He is grateful to his monetary and labor sponsors, who included the No Mercy Wrestling Club, the Fallbrook Wrestling Booster Club, and various friends.

The tournament involves three rounds in each match, although if one wrestler wins both of the first two rounds there is no need for a third period. The format also alternates an automatic point each round to a wrestler if there are no other points in that period.

Oliver had three matches during the tournament. His first came against a Turkish opponent. Oliver won the first period by a 6-0 score and swept the match after a 4-0 favorable margin in the second round.

Oliver advanced to the semifinals against a ten-time world champion from Iran. “I was impressed,” he said of his Iranian opponent.

The lack of takedowns in the first two rounds gave the Iranian a 1-0 advantage for the first period while Oliver took a 1-0 victory for the second round. In the third round Oliver accomplished the only takedown of the match. “That’s all I needed,” he said.

With that point Oliver concentrated on defensive strategy. “He couldn’t take me down,” Oliver said.

The Iranian ten-time champion had not been taken down in ten years before Oliver’s third-period maneuver.

Oliver faced another Turk in the finals and won in two periods, earning 2-0 scores in each period against his opponent.

“It was a blessing,” Oliver said of his gold medal. “It’s tough to do.”

Oliver noted that he was impressed by the conditioning and physical ability of the competitors in the Veterans World Championship.

The Veterans World Championship has 35-40, 41-45, 46-50, 51-55, and 55-and-over age groups as well as weight divisions within each age group, and Oliver was also the coach of the United States team. The United States team placed fourth overall and earned seven medals: two gold medals including Oliver’s, one silver medal, and four bronze medals.

“I have a lot of respect for a lot of guys on the team with me,” Oliver said.

Oliver has previous experience coaching United States national teams, including the United States Olympic team which included helping the United States wrestlers during the 1996 games in Atlanta. Oliver’s decision to compete as a wrestler, along with the presence of many national team coaches at the Pan-American Games, led to the coaching invitation.

Oliver attended high school in Omaha before wrestling for Arizona State University. He was a three-time NCAA Division I All-American for Arizona State and was an alternate on the 1984 Olympic team. He is a member of both the Nebraska Hall of Fame and the Arizona State University Hall of Fame.

In 1986 Oliver became the Palomar College wrestling coach, and he spent seven seasons coaching the Comets. He also coached San Diego State University’s wrestling team for two years before the Aztecs dropped the sport in 1991. While Oliver was coaching at Palomar College, he also served as the wrestling coach at San Marcos High School.

Oliver eventually returned to eastern Nebraska and was the assistant wrestling coach for the University of Nebraska from 1998 to 2003. In 2003 he returned to San Diego County, and for three years he was the assistant wrestling coach for Fallbrook High School as well as a substitute campus supervisor. In September 2006 he was hired as a full-time campus supervisor and as the high school’s head wrestling coach. Oliver has also been an assistant coach with the Fallbrook Wrestling Club.

In Oliver’s first year as the Fallbrook High School head coach, five wrestlers fared well enough in the league and CIF divisional tournaments to reach the all-division Masters tournament. Warrior senior Jacob Wagaman qualified for the state tournament while sophomore Brent Jones was fifth to miss a state qualifying berth by one position.

Oliver believes that his performance at the Veterans World Championship tournament will make his Warrior wrestlers eager to improve. “They got a chance to see it firsthand,” Oliver said. “Conditioning is going to pay off for you.”

The Veterans World Championship tournament is held each year. Oliver plans to continue training and return to future tournaments. “I’m looking forward to going back next year,” he said.


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