Thankfully that didn’t happen on our trip to the FILA Cadet World Championships in Szombathely, Hungary, but it almost did.
Two months before the tournament I sent the schedule to my father who also came to Hungary to see Sam wrestle in his first international competition. Opening ceremonies were at 7pm on Tuesday, August 23 so my father, his friend and I arrive in Szombathely from Budapest at noon. We thought we would check into the hotel and have lunch, maybe nap and then make our way to the arena at 5:30 to get tickets and seats. My father though insisted on going to the arena just to get our tickets right away. We tried to dissuade him thinking the place might not even be open, but he was insistent.
When we arrived the arena was open and we got our tickets outside. Then we decided to take a peek at the mats and we went in. We didn’t get far before we ran into Sam’s dad who informed us that wrestling starts at 1pm and this is the only day that Sam will wrestle. Yes the wrestling starts before the opening ceremony. In fact the only thing after the ceremony is the medal round!
Boy, were we glad fate stepped in. Watching Sam in that environment was such a thrill. The wrestling was at a very high level. The arena was like any in the U.S. – three big mats on the floor, t-shirts and junk food for sale and uncomfortable benches for the fans.
No surprise, Hungary had the biggest, loudest fan contingent. I think the U.S. might have been next – not in number of fans, but in enthusiasm and volume. The U.S. team was made up of wrestlers from all over the country so there was only one other parent I knew, but that didn’t matter. We cheered for each boy like they were our own. Introductions were done after the boys were done – no one wanted to miss a minute of wrestling. Freestyle continued the next day, then the womens’ freestyle and then Greco Roman. I wished I could have stayed to watch it all – but that might have been pushing my luck after all I almost missed day one, Sam’s day.