A young India will look to leave behind all the politics related to their travel for the U23 Wrestling World Championships taking place in Belgarde. The focus will be to silence everyone, including the government who doubted their wrestling prowess.
India has never won more than three medals at the age-group level since the inception of the competition in 2017. From the medal-winning batch of ‘17, only Divya Karkan has managed to rise up in the ranks. She has won a Commonwealth and Asian Games bronze medal and is a two-time Asian champion.
The youngster is part of the women’s wrestling team for the U23 Worlds. However, the concern for her and the rest of the squad will be the lack of preparation.
However, the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) is optimistic that the current batch will draw inspiration from the Tokyo Olympics and cadet and junior world championship performances, where India had a memorable outing.
A new squad with some familiar faces for U23 Wrestling World Championship
Of the 30 wrestlers (10 each in Greco-Roman, Freestyle and Women’s Wrestling) six wrestlers have found their way to the senior side. WFI selected the gold medallists from the U23 National championships held in Amethi in September.
While Sunil Kumar, Ashu and Sajan have been regulars in the Greco-Roman team, Divya and Nisha are amongst the best in their respective weight classes.
Sandeep Singh is the most recent to break into the senior side. He won the 74kg trials for the Olympic qualifiers but failed to book the berth. The wrestler from Punjab then moved up to 86kg, where he competed at the recently held World Championships in Oslo, Norway.
However, there are also many who have not boasted a great domestic or international record in the last three years. This also became a point of contention for the Sports Authority of India (SAI) to exclude six wrestlers from their no-cost to government benefit for the U23 Wrestling World Championship.
SAI also suggested that the Wrestling Federation of India should also include coaches from the academies producing a larger number of members of the contingent.
Lack of practice for U23 Wrestling World Championship
One factor that could hurt the Indian team is that their preparation for the Worlds hasn't been ideal. The national championships in Amethi were the first competition in as many months for the squad and there was no national camp prior to the U23 wrestling world championship. WFI had asked the wrestlers to continue training at their respective wrestling academies.
U23 Wrestling World Championship Squad
Freestyle: Saurabh, Suraj Rajkumar Kokate, Parvinder, Naveen, Parveen Malik, Vicky, Sandeep Singh, Gurdeshwar Singh, Sahil and Mohit.
Greco Roman: Arsad, Vikas, Neeraj, Ashu, Vikas, Sajan, Rohit Dahiya, Sunil Kumar, Deepanshu, Aryan Panwar.
Women’s: Shivani Pawar, Ankush, Anju, Kitika, Pushapa, Radhika, Nisha, Monika, Divya Kakran, Bipasha
U23 Wrestling World Championship LIVE STREAMING: The U23 Wrestling World Championships live streaming will be available at WrestlingTV.in.