By ROB McNICHOL
Professional wrestling legend Kurt Angle won a gold medal at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996 for freestyle wrestling before entering the pro ranks.
The TNA Impact Wrestling star had intended to participate once again in 2012 but injury put paid to his comeback attempt.
However, he told SunSport that he kept a close eye on the Games, particularly Team GB’s many gold medallists, and will throw open the doors to any of them to catch a TNA show when the company tour the UK and Ireland in January.
Kurt said: “I’d love to meet them. They have an open invitation to join me in the ring or come backstage and meet everyone.
“I’m sure all the guys would be honored to meet them. We would throw a special Olympic party.
“Who knows, we might try to do something with me and them on TV to kind of parlay it. That would be great for the athletes, great for Britain and great for me, too.
“I’m proud to be called a hero for winning an Olympic gold medal and I know what effort it takes to gain that honor.
“I saw Mo Farah and Jessica Ennis win in their athletics events. They are great athletes and have great characters.
“Who knows, we might be able to make great wrestlers out of them!”
Kurt, 43, is back wrestling full-time after an injury-filled year forced him to not only miss London 2012 but limit his participation for TNA. Now, though, he is back and raring to go.
He told us: “I’m 100 per cent now. The Olympic training took a lot out of my body. It wore me out. I was trying to train full-time and wrestle professionally full-time. It was too much at my age.
“It’s OK. I have one gold medal but it would have been nice to do it again. My wrestling was great but trying to wrestle for TNA at the same time was literally impossible.
“I think I had five injuries in 11 months. It was just heartbreaking. But it’s OK. I’m doing what I love to do right now and I have no bad feelings about it. Everything worked out.”
TNA will be filing four episodes of Impact Wrestling while in the UK in January, with two tapings at the Manchester Arena and two in London’s Wembley Arena.
The latter hosted a taping last year and, despite doing on so on short notice, the venue provided one of the best atmospheres in the company’s 10-year history.
Kurt added: “They are amazing crowds. I love going over there. Last year, because of my Olympic training, they didn’t have me wrestle. They had me written off the shows because they didn’t want me to get hurt while I was training.
“But this year I will definitely be there and I will definitely be wrestling.
“It’s going to be a different scene this year. Last year was last minute notice and we did the best with what we had. The crowd made up for it and we didn’t skip a beat. We love wrestling in front of the great British crowd.
“Britain is the country we can rely on to know we have a lot of great fans. Going over there, the wrestlers aren’t upset. No one is like ‘oh darn, I have to go to England’, they’re just as excited as the fans. They love going over there.”
TNA’s expansion to Britain does not end with extra television tapings. A new show, TNA British Bootcamp, is due to start later this year on Challenge, and features four independent British wrestlers – Rockstar Spud, Marty Scurll and The Blossom Twins – vying to earn a TNA contract.
Read the rest of the interview here: