All you need to know about India's history in wrestling at the Summer Olympics

Sushil Kumar (extreme left) at the Rio Olympics
Sushil Kumar (extreme left) at the Rio Olympics

In recent years, India has become one of the powerhouses of wrestling in the world. Wrestling is one of the few sports the country has consistently been medaling in since the 2008 Beijing Games. Heading into the Tokyo Olympics, India would be the favorites to bag at least three medals.

On that note, let's revisit India's wrestling performances through the years at the Summer Olympics:

India's wrestling history at the Summer Games

Freestyle wrestling was introduced at the Summer Olympics in 1904, with India winning its first medal in the sport at the 1952 Helsinki Games. Khashaba Dadasaheb Jadhav secured the bantamweight bronze, which was also independent India’s first individual medal.

It took over 50 years for the country to win its next medal in the sport. Sushil Kumar ended the drought at the 2008 Beijing Olympics when he won the bronze medal in the 66kg freestyle category.

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He followed that up with a silver medal four years later in London to become the only Indian athlete to win more than one Olympic medal for an individual sport.

Yogeshwar Dutt
Yogeshwar Dutt

Sushil’s teammate Yogeshwar Dutt also tasted Olympic glory as he bagged a bronze medal in the 60 kg freestyle the same year. Dutt thus became the third Indian wrestler to win an Olympic medal.

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Women's wrestling, on the other hand, was introduced at the Summer Games in 2004. While Geeta Phogat was the first Indian woman to represent India at the Olympics in 2012, she did not win a medal. In 2016, Sakshi Malik etched her name in the record books after becoming the first female grappler from India to win an Olympic medal. She won the 58 kg bronze by beating Aisuluu Tynybekova (current world champion in 62 kg) in the repechage round.

What will be the wrestling rules at the Tokyo Olympics?

In wrestling, the objective is to either pin or outscore the opponent within six minutes (two rounds of three minutes). Points are allocated if the wrestler can get his opponent on the back, with various moves. Each technique is awarded differently.

Sakshi Malik
Sakshi Malik

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In Freestyle, one can attack any part of the body. However, in the Greco-Roman section, wrestlers can attack from waist up while any attack on the legs is a penalty.

Also, post-2016, after a major revamp of the wrestling guidelines, grapplers are now required to be active throughout the six minutes. If they become passive or defensive, they will be warned.

After the warning, the wrestlers will be put on a 30-second clock, where the penalized wrestler will have to score, otherwise the match referee will award one point to the opponent.

What are the wrestling weight categories for Tokyo Olympics?

The Tokyo Olympics will have six weight categories in each of the three styles.

Freestyle: 57 kg, 65 kg, 74 kg, 86 kg, 97 kg, 125 kg

Greco-Roman: 60 kg, 67 kg, 77 kg, 87 kg, 97 kg, 130 kg

Women's Wrestling: 50 kg, 53 kg, 57 kg, 62 kg, 68 kg, 76 kg

What to expect from India at the Tokyo Olympics?

India will field seven wrestlers for the Tokyo Olympics. In men’s freestyle, Ravi Dahiya (57 kg), Bajrang Punia (65 kg) and Deepak Punia (86 kg) have qualified. Seema Bisla (50 kg), Vinesh Phogat (53 kg), Anshu Malik (57 kg) and Sonam Malik (62 kg) have punched their Tokyo Olympics quota among the women.

Edited by Sudeshna Banerjee
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