By Mike Rowbottom

Leon_RattiganApril 12 - Wrestling has become the latest British sport to be accorded Host Nation Qualification places at London 2012.

The British Olympic Association (BOA) has announced that the sport will be able to use three places in any weight category and any gender across the two Olympic wrestling disciplines of freestyle and Greco-Roman.

The number of Host Nation Qualification Places available to Team GB will be reduced by one for each British athlete that qualifies directly for London 2012 by meeting the Olympic qualification criteria.

"British Wrestling has really raised the bar in performance terms in recent years," said Andy Hunt, BOA chief executive and Chef de Mission of Team GB.

"Last year the Great Britain squad achieved their first European Championship medal for 21 years and their first Commonwealth Games gold medal for 24 years.

"While the short term focus is on a successful Olympic Games performance in London 2012, equally important is the long term development of successful British wrestlers on the world stage for Rio 2016 and beyond."

BOA director of sport, Sir Clive Woodward added: "Wrestling has a rich and proud heritage in the UK.

"The first time London hosted the Olympic Games in 1908 GB wrestlers won ten medals and the last Team GB medallist was Noel Loban, who won a bronze at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.

"As a sport which requires a combination of exceptional levels of fitness, strength and agility, I am sure that the platform of London 2012 will enable wrestling to inspire many more young athletes to give it a try and ultimately form the future generations of Team GB Olympic wrestlers."

British Wrestling performance director Shaun Morley commented: "We are delighted with the faith shown in British wrestling.

"It fully endorses our year on year development as a sport, but also the consistent improvement of our elite wrestlers, some of who are now regularly among the medal contenders at international events.

"Our athletes, coaches and administrators have put in an enormous amount of hard work to lift British wrestling to where it now is, and I am greatly encouraged by our development.

"Now we are all really excited about competing at the London 2012 Olympics, but we are also looking further afield to Rio 2016 and beyond."

British wrestler Leon Rattigan added: "For me, taking part in an Olympic Games in my home country would be a dream come true.

"Every time I turn up for training, every time I attend a tournament, it is being a part of London 2012 that drives me on - and I am sure that feeling is shared among all the GB wrestlers, striving to be a part of it all next year."

The BOA has now confirmed that wrestling, fencing, synchronised swimming, beach volleyball, basketball, table tennis, judo, handball, indoor volleyball, water polo and weightlifting will be able to take up Home Nation Places at the London 2012 Olympic Games.

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