Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh has put his faith in the young Indian squad for the wrestling world championships. Despite the absence of star wrestlers like Olympic medalists Bajrang Punia, Ravi Dahiya and world medalist Vinesh Phogat, Singh expects a good performance.
He feels the youngsters will draw inspiration from their senior Tokyo Olympic performance and try to replicate it in Oslo, Norway. In an exclusive conversation with Sportskeeda, he said:
“I am looking forward to a good performance by our youngsters at the world championships. Yes, we don’t have the likes of Bajrang Punia and Ravi Dahiya but we have sent a good squad. They had really performed well at the cadet and junior worlds this year.”
He added that this competition will also be good exposure for many wrestlers who will make their debut at the senior level and will help them gain confidence ahead of the marquee competitions next year.
“We have the Asian and Commonwealth Games next year. Everyone has set their sight on it. It will be a good chance for these young wrestlers to prove their mettle and gain necessary confidence before these big competitions,” Singh said.
High Expectations from Anshu Malik at the Wrestling World Championships
Out of the seven Tokyo Olympians, only Anshu Malik (57kg) will feature at the historic wrestling worlds starting from October 2. She looked rusty in the selection trials for the wrestling world championships but would like to return to winning ways soon.
Singh, who was upset with Anshu’s Tokyo Olympic performance, said he will keep a close eye on her performance. He expects her to live up to the expectations and bring a medal for the country.
“She did not live up to her talent at the Tokyo Olympics. Anshu has been our most consistent wrestler but the way she performed in Tokyo was disappointing. I expect her to win this time at the wrestling world championship,” Singh said.
The big expectations from the youngster are justified to a certain extent. Anshu has been one of India’s most consistent wrestlers since her debut in 2020. She has won medals in five of six competitions barring the Olympics.
However, she will enter the wrestling world championships with an elbow injury that might play spoilsport in her campaign. Another concern would be the lack of preparation for the wrestling world championships.
None of the selected women wrestlers (except Sarita Mor in 59kg) attended the 10-day preparatory camp organized by WFI in IGI. Instead, they decided to train at their personal akhada. Anshu trained in Nidani, Haryana while nursing her elbow injury.
She will face challenges from Olympic bronze medalists Helen Maroulis (USA) and Evelina Nikolova (BUL).
African star Odunayo Adekuroye (NGR) is also a big threat in the event for Anshu. Adekuroye is a 2019 world bronze medalist and 2018 silver medalist. She will be looking to make amends for a disastrous showing in Tokyo.
Other Indian wrestlers to keep an eye on at wrestling world championships
Other Indian wrestlers to watch for at the wrestling world championships are junior world silver medallist Ravinder (61kg), Asian champion Sarita Mor, and 2020 Asian champion Sunil.