Rio Olympics 2016: Indian greco-roman wrestlers upbeat after Bulgaria stint
There is an air of optimism in the Indian men’s greco-roman wrestling camp – after all it is after many years that the country will field two grapplers in the greco-roman category – in fact, this is the first time in 12 years that India will field wrestlers in this category, as it is always our freestyle grapplers who hog the limelight. “The fact India have two greco-roman wrestlers qualifying for the Olympics indicates that greco-roman wrestling is coming up in a big way. 2004 Athens Olympics was the last time we had Mausam Khatri participating and now after 12 years we have not one but two for Rio Olympics,” says Indian men greco-roman wrestling team head coach Kuldeep Singh.
Kuldeep, who is employed with the Indian Navy, has reasons to be optimistic about an Olympic medal. “Both Hardeep Singh (98-kg) and Ravindra Khatri (85-kg) are training hard – we had a good training stint in Bulgaria and both are geared up for Rio. We are not going to Rio to just make up the numbers,” he says oozing with confidence.
Quiz him on the improvement areas for these grapplers, Kuldeep puts forth elaborate thoughts. “Every weight category has different requirements – lower weight and upper weight categories will have different improvement areas be it endurance or speed. Of course, fitness-wise we are as good as anyone in the world. Of course, sometimes wrestlers need to work on techniques as well.”
The Indian wrestling team will take in an International Tourney in Spain next month. “The Spain tourney will be held on July 9 and 10 – I’m sure the competition will be good exposure for our wrestlers’ Rio Olympic preparations,” says Kuldeep, whose name is often confused with India’s women greco-roman wrestling coach who goes by the same name. “Both of our names are same – he is employed with Railways while I’m employed with Indian Navy,” he signs off.
The country’s wrestling fans will hope that our greco-roman wrestlers pull their weight and mark a strong presence in the Rio Olympics and match if not surpass the feats of our freestyle grapplers. Clearly, Indian greco-roman wrestling is on a high and a strong showing in Rio will put a seal of confirmation to that.