By Duncan Mackay

Natalia Vorobieva at London 2012May 9 - Wrestling plans to add two weight classes for women as it attempts to save its place on the Olympic programme after Rio 2016.

The decision to add the women's events, at weights between 50 and 74 kilograms, will mean the loss of two men's categories.

It is part of the plan by Nenad Lalovic, interim President of the International Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles (FILA), to try to convince the International Olympic Committee (IOC) that the sport is capable of changing after its Executive Board recommended it be dropped from the list of core sports after the next Games.

He is also proposing adding a female vice-president to the top of the organisation's structure and forming a women's commission. 

Women's wrestling was only added to the Olympic programme at Athens in 2004.

"Women's wrestling today is very spectacular," Lalovic told Associated Press.

"Very interesting to watch.

"Why shouldn't we be representative of women as well as men?"

The addition of the new weight classes will go some way to helping balance the Olympic programme, although it will still be dominated by men. 

There were 14 men's classes at London 2012 - seven in Greco-Roman and seven in freestyle - and only four for women, all in the freestyle division.

Saori Yoshida wins at London 2012Japan's Saori Yoshida claimed her third consecutive Olympic gold medal at London 2012

The women's competition was dominated at London 2012 by Japanese wrestlers, who won three of the four gold medals, with Saori Yoshida claiming her third consecutive gold medal in the 63kg division.

Another proposed change is that male Greco-Roman wrestlers compete shirtless.

"We propose that wrestlers in Greco-Roman style should be shirtless," said Lalovic.

"We think it will be more interesting and better for the spectators."

Wrestling is due to join the seven sports bidding to join the Olympic programme for 2020 - baseball/softball, karate, roller sports sport climbing, sqush, wakeboarding and wushu - in giving a presentation to the IOC's Executive Board in St Petersburg on May 29. 

It hopes to convince the IOC that it is prepared to make the necessary changes to modernise the sport and make it more popular.

The rule changes are due to be presented to FILA's Extraordinary Congress in Moscow on May 18.

"This will be one of the most important meetings in the history of our sport," said Lalovic.

"This will be the time we make our sport better.

"We are proud of our past, but we're looking to our future and we will be strong enough to change."

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