There may be such a thing as being too old to compete in the Olympics, but you can never be too old to try. Andre Metzger, a 52-year-old wrestler from Michigan, is proving that as he tries to qualify for the 2012 Olympic Games in London. Metzger was a two-time NCAA champion at the University of Oklahoma in the early 1980s. He is now preparing for the U.S. Olympic wrestling trials from April 20-22 in Iowa.
According to the Detroit Free Press, Metzger left wrestling 20 years ago after a series of events involving John E. du Pont, a man he once worked alongside as an assistant wrestling coach at Villanova. In 1997, du Pont was found guilty but mentally ill in the shooting death of Olympic gold medalist David Schultz. Metzger was thinking about making a comeback in 1993 but du Pont threatened him, so Andre decided against it. Du Pont died in a Pennsylvania prison in 2010.
“I stepped away completely,” he told the Free Press. “The guy did so many bad things; he was such an evil person.”
The former high school state champ, junior world championship bronze medalist, and three-time senior world championship medalist is currently paying his own way to train at the USOC facility and stay in a dorm room. He is training alongside wrestlers who are half his age and make it a point to razz him about his “old school” gear, which includes a 30-year-old warmup jacket. Metzger will compete in the trials next month for Greco-Roman, which forbids grapples below the waist.
“I said, ‘OK, this guy is crazy,’” U.S. national Greco-Roman coach Steve Fraser said. “I hadn’t heard from Andre in years. He was the real deal, a great competitor. The guy has been a real pleasure to have in our training room. He’s training early in the morning and late at night; he’s definitely a breath of fresh air.”
Metzger isn’t the only older wrestler attempting to make a comeback, as he is joined by 40-year-old gold medalist Rulon Gardner and 43-year-old gold medalist and former WWE superstar Kurt Angle. Those guys are old, but Metgzer is over the hill.
“I know I can do it,” Metzger said when asked how he feels about his chances to qualify. “Any person that has a goal with a purpose, that’s success right there. My mind’s fine; I’m willing to accept anything that happens. But I’m going to give it all that I can.”
One thing’s for sure: plenty of people will be rooting for Andre Metzger come April 20 in Iowa.
(Photo by Graham Crouch/Getty Images)
- Andre Metzger