Analysis: Wrestlers' disappointing Asian Championship campaign!
With the 2016 Rio Olympics just more than a year away, all does not seem to be hunky-dory with Indian wrestling following a disappointing performance by the country’s grapplers in the recently-held Asian Wrestling Championships in Doha.
The country – bandied about as a rising wrestling force on the world stage – put up a listless show in the Doha event, contriving just five medals – one silver and four bronze medals. What will be of worry for the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) is that four of the five medals were bagged by the women wrestlers – a stark reminder that the men’s grapplers came a cropper in Doha.
Save for Narsingh Yadav, who won a bronze medal in the 74-kg category, none of the men wrestlers were made to attain a podium finish, which may just raise uncomfortable questions about whether our grapplers are ready for the Rio Olympics.
The women grapplers have raised expectations with Vinesh Phogat winning a silver medal in the freestyle 48-kg category, while the trio of Lalita Shehrawat, Geeta Phogat and Sakshi Malik landed bronze medals in 55-kg, 58-kg and 60-kg categories respectively. It’s not just the performance of the wrestlers that disappointed the WFI – the federation was of the view that some of the grapplers lost close bouts largely owing to inefficiency of coaches to guide the wrestlers in the dying moments of the bout.
It is learnt that the likes of Parveen Rana Rajneesh, Mausam Khatri and Narsingh Yadav had lost bouts, which they should have won due to lapses in concentration in the closing stages of the bout. The WFI has apparently put the onus on the coaches for not doing their bit in guiding the grapplers close out the bouts and securing the wins at the Doha event.
Rana let opponent take charge of the game after being 7-0 up: Source
A WFI source said Parveen Rana was leading 7-0 in his 70-kg bout against an Uzbekistan opponent until the last 30 seconds of the semi-final bout, but he allowed his opponent to mount a fight back and win a place in the final. This particular incident clearly indicates that coaches were ‘not doing their job’.
Unconfirmed sources said some grapplers were victims of poor umpiring and Indian coaches did not adequately register a protest with the technical judges. Although this could not be confirmed, the poor performance of the men’s grapplers ensured a moderate medal haul for India at the Asian Wrestling Championships in Doha.
No wonder, the WFI swung into action and sacked men’s chief freestyle coach Vinod Kumar along with men’s freestyle coach Rajaneesh and women’s freestyle coach Ramani Chanu. Dhyanchand awardee Kuldeep Malik, who has been the women's freestyle chief coach until now, will have a big challenge of getting the best out of the grapplers in his new role as the country’s men’s freestyle head coach.
One hopes Indian wrestling tides over this phase and emerges stronger in the future since the Rio Olympics is not far away!