The Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) is all set to field a young and inexperienced (at senior level) squad at the upcoming world wrestling championships scheduled to be held from October 2 to 10 in Oslo, Norway. The team will leave on September 29.
WFI assistant secretary Vinod Tomar exclusively told Sportskeeda:
“They will leave on September 29 night. We have asked them to submit their documents before we book the tickets.”
The wrestling federation had originally planned to book tickets on Air France but could not due to logistical reasons. They are now looking for other routes to send the team to the wrestling worlds.
“We were looking at Air France but canceled it later. Now, we are looking for other routes to book the tickets,” WFI official said.
India will field its most inexperienced squad for the worlds in the last few years. Out of the seven Olympians, only Anshu Malik (57kg women’s) is part of the Norway-bound wrestling squad.
Olympic bronze medalist Bajrang Punia (65kg), Deepak Punia (86kg), Seema Bisla (50kg) and Sonam Malik (62kg) pulled out due to injury. The Olympic silver medalist Ravi Dahiya (57kg), on the other hand, withdrew due to lack of preparation.
Vinesh Phogat, meanwhile, participated in the trials in the 55kg weight category held in August. Despite winning the first round, she pulled out citing health issues.
WFI president believes it is time for youngsters to shine and take the mantle of Indian wrestling. It will be good exposure for them, he says, and also increase competition for a place in the Indian team for the two marquee events next year.
“I am looking forward to how these youngsters perform. They are riding on some really good performances at the junior and cadet worlds held this year. This also shows there will be a lot of competition in the months to come for the Asian and Commonwealth Games,” he said.
10-day preparatory wrestling camp for World Championships
The wrestlers, though, have not had sufficient training for the last big event of the year. The wrestling federation had originally planned to begin the camp from September 5 which was then pushed to September 15. However, it got delayed again and resumed on September 20.
Tomar said WFI had submitted the request to the Sports Authority of India immediately after the trials but the governing body took time to give permission.
“We had put in the request on September 1 but SAI took their own time. All we could do was wait,” he said.
WFI had asked the wrestlers to continue their training at their respective akhadas (wrestling academy) until the camp begins. Tomar feels the team is ready for the challenge despite the 10-days preparatory camp.
“Yes, the camp was very short. But they had been training at their akhadas. They are ready for the world championships,” he added.