Tigers on the mat
India’s men’s team finished the freestyle World Championship in Budapest last month with 23 points, which catapulted the country to sixth in rankings behind Iran, Russia, Georgia, Ukraine and USA. As per FILA (world wrestling body) rules, the top eight teams in World Championship automatically qualify for the World Cup and Amit Kumar Dahiya’s silver in 55kg and Bajrang’s bronze in 60kg ensured India its maiden World Cup appearance next year.
The icing on the cake was Sandeep Tulsi Yadav’s bronze in 66-kg Greco-Roman section, India’s first ever medal in this particular category. The Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) announced Rs five lakh for Amit Kumar while bronze winners Bajrang and Sandeep will get Rs three lakh each.
London Olympics medal winners Sushil Kumar and Yogeswar Dutt missed the World Championship. Sushil pulled out due to a shoulder injury while a knee injury forced Yogeshwar to sit out.
Following India’s commendable performance in Budapest World Championship, ace grapplers Sushil and Yogeshwar vowed to settle for nothing less than five medals in the next edition at Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
Yogeshwar said the recent success of Indian grapplers is a result of a change in their mentality and they are now hungry for success and not just content participating in big events. ‘Amit (Dahiya), Bajrang and Sandeep (Tulsi Yadav) have put the Indian wrestling on a different track. With the next line of wrestlers ready and raring to go, we are confident that India will bring home 4-5 medals from the Rio Games. We all are targeting gold medals as the recent success at World Championship has spurred us on,’ he said.
Both the wrestlers, who have recovered from their respective injuries, said the medals won by them in Olympics have played a major role in this promising change.
‘The emerging wrestlers took inspiration from our medals and results are in front of you. This augurs well for the Indian wrestling. They have the confidence to win major tournaments and it was evident in world championship,’ said Yogeshwar.
Chief coach Vinod Kumar too hailed India’s show which brought to light young Indian grapplers ready to take the sport forward in the right direction set by their illustrious predecessors like Sushil and Yogeshwar. ‘It’s raining good news for India as after wrestling’s re-inclusion in the Olympic movement, our wards performed extremely well in the World Championship. Their efforts paid rich dividends as now India’s sixth rank has led to our World Cup qualification for the first time in the history of the men’s senior wrestling,’ the coach said. -- with inputs from agencies
‘World Championship acts as a qualifying event for the World Cup. In the next year’s World Cup, free-style wrestlers will be spearheading the country’s challenge while the fate of greco-roman and women’s wrestlers will be decided after the championship,’ he said.