Big-time wrestling returns to India as the 26th edition of the Senior Asian Wrestling Championship gets underway at the KD Jadhav Wrestling Stadium in New Delhi from April 18 to 22.
The high-profile wresting event comes against the backdrop of Indian wrestling popularity soaring to an all-time high after the country bagged two medals – one silver and one bronze at the 2012 London Olympics.
Wrestling buffs would hope that the Indian wrestlers would consolidate on the highs they scaled at the London Olympics.
The Indian women’s team for the big-ticket event would be announced on Tuesday. According to the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) sources, the women’s team would be picked after the WFI selectors meet at NIS Patiala on Tuesday to witness the selection trials.
The Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) selectors comprise president and MP Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, secretary Raj Singh, treasurer Prem Nath, joint secretaries Darshan Lal, Naresh Kumar and Rajinder Singh.
The Wrestling Federation of India has intimated that the selection trials for the women wrestlers would begin at 9 am on Tuesday with the weigh-in scheduled for the same day.
Although it could not be confirmed, the WFI selectors are likely to name a seven-member women’s squad.
All the county’s top women wrestlers, including Olympian Geeta Phogat – the first Indian women grappler to participate in the mega event, will slug it out for a berth in the national squad.
The Indian men’s wrestling team has already been announced. The team was picked at the SAI Northern Training Centre in Sonepat on March 21.
Sushil, who is the only Indian to win back-to-back individual Olympic medals, will be the cynosure of all eyes when he takes the mat in the 66-kg freestyle category.
This will be Sushil’s first return to competitive action after his silver medal effort at the London Olympics. He has recovered from a shoulder injury which kept him out of action for more than seven months.
The injury blues chased London Olympics bronze medallist Yogeshwar Dutt as well. The lanky grappler will also be staging a comeback in the 60kg freestyle division after fully recovering from a knee injury.
2012 Asian Championship bronze medallist Amit Kumar, will also be seen in action in the freestyle 55kg division, while 2010 Commonwealth Games gold medallist Narsingh Yadav will be competing in the 84kg category.
In the greco-roman style, Asian Games bronze medallist Ravinder Singh and Sunil Rana will carry the Indian hopes in the 60kg and 66kg categories respectively.
More than 20 countries including Iran, Japan, Korea, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Mongolia are expected to take part in this championship.
Iran would be the team to watch out for having bagged the 2012 continental title in both freestyle and greco roman categories.
India has performed well at the continental championships having won 15 medals in the last three editions. This is the sixth time India is hosting this championship. New Delhi is staging it for the fourth time.