Chief national women’s wrestling coach Kuldeep Malik quits national camp

Kuldeep Singh (L) & Sakshi Malik (Image courtesy: PTI)
Kuldeep Singh (L) & Sakshi Malik (Image courtesy: PTI)
Navneet Singh

India’s chief national women’s wrestling coach Kuldeep Malik has quit the national camp. Services coach Jitendra Yadav will oversee the new season, the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) said on Thursday.

“Malik expressed in his inability to continue with the coaching assignment," said Vinod Tomar, assistant secretary of WFI. "Therefore, we have appointed Yadav as the head coach of the women’s team."

Yadav, a former national level wrestler and now coach of the Air Force Development Group in Bengaluru, has been associated with the junior national camp. This will be his first major assignment.

Yadav said maintaining discipline in the national camp will be one of his priorities.

“I don’t want to act like a school principal at the senior national camp," said the newly-appointed chief coach. "At the same time wrestlers should follow basic rules to set up a healthy environment in the camp."

Keeping young and experienced wrestlers fit to perform at the optimum level at major international competitions scheduled for the second half of the year will be a challenging task for Yadav.

Birmingham Commonwealth Games in August and Hangzhou Asian Games in September are the two major competitions this year.

Commonwealth Games are generally cakewalks for Indian wrestlers, but Asian Games will be a challenging task.

Malik, from Haryana, took over the reign of the chief national women’s coach in 2013. The most illustrious moment of his coaching career was Sakshi Malik’s bronze medal in women’s 58kg freestyle event at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

Malik’s nine-year tenure at the top ended on a quiet note as four Indian female wrestlers, who qualified for the Tokyo Olympic Games, failed to live up to their expectations.

Seema Bisla (50kg) Vinesh Phogat (53kg), Anshu Malik (57kg) and Sonam Malik (62kg) were expected to raise the level of their performance in Japan, but all four failed to come close to the medal round.

Vinesh, who was India’s best medal hopeful, lost her quarterfinal bout.

Pradeep Sharma, assistant coach to Malik, has also quit the national camp due to personal reasons. Virendra Dahiya will be the new assistant coach of the national team.

The WFI has also made changes in the men’s wrestling camp. Both Anil Mann and Rajeev Tomar, associated with the men’s freestyle team, are out.

Meanwhile, the WFI has recalled Sujit Mann, a former international wrestler and coach, to join the men’s national camp.

Edited by Sudeshna Banerjee


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