Stage set for 26th Senior Asian Wrestling Championships
The stage is set for the start of the 26th Senior Asian Wrestling Championships, which gets under way at the KD Jadhav Wrestling Stadium in New Delhi on Thursday.
The seven-day event would witness 225 wrestlers from 19 countries including powerhouses Iran, Japan, Korea, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Mongolia slugging it out for the top honours.
The withdrawal of the duo means there is huge responsibility on 2012 Asian Championship bronze medallist Amit Kumar, 2010 Commonwealth Games gold medallist Narsingh Yadav and Asian Games bronze medallist Ravinder Singh to fulfil the medal hopes of the home fans.
Amit Kumar will also be seen in action in the freestyle 55-kg category, while Narsingh Yadav will be competing in the 84-kg category.
Rookie Amit Dhankar will grapple in the 66-kg category after being included at the eleventh hour for injured Sushil.
Another greenhorn Bajrang will compete in the 60-kg category, taking the place of injured Yogeshwar Dutt. 2012 Asian championship bronze medallist Deepak will fight in the 74-kg category.
Asian Games bronze medallist Ravinder Singh will hit the mat in the 60-kg greco-roman category, while Sunil Rana will fight in the 66-kg greco-roman category respectively.
India has fared well at the continental championships having won 15 medals in the last three editions.
This is the sixth time India is hosting this championship. New Delhi is staging the event for the fourth time.
Iran would be the team to beat – they have bagged the 2012 continental title in both freestyle and greco roman categories.
It may be pertinent to mention that both Sushil and Yogeshwar pulled out after failing to recover from their respective injuries.
Sushil, who bagged a silver medal at the 2012 London Olympics in the 66-kg category, is yet to recover from a shoulder injury.
The wrestler, who is the only Indian to win back-to-back individual Olympic medals, having earlier won a bronze at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, hasn’t been seen in any competitive action after his silver medal effort at the London Olympics.
Yogeshwar, who won a bronze medal in the 60-kg category, was undergoing rehab after he tore a ligament in January.
The lanky grappler had suffered a knee injury after the London Olympics and was out of competitive action for two months.
The squad: Men: (Freestyle): Amit Kumar (55-kg), Bajrang (60-kg), Amit Dhankar (66-kg), Deepak (74-kg), Narsingh Yadav (84-kg). (Greco-roman): Ravinder Singh (60-kg), Sunil Rana (66-kg).
Women: Priyanka Singh (48 kg), Vinesh (51 kg), Babita Kumari (55 kg), Geeta Phogat (59 kg), Geetika Jakhar (63 kg), Navjot Kaur (67 kg), Jyoti (72 kg).
Chief coach: O.P. Yadav; Coach: Kripa Shankar; Foreign expert: Emzar Makharadze