Wrestling at Commonwealth Games 2018: India to stake their claim for gold from 12 April
If there is one discipline where India has hardly returned empty-handed in the Commonwealth Games, it is the sport of wrestling. Right from the solitary bronze won by Rashid Anwar at the London CWG of 1934 [then known as British Empire Games], to a rich haul of 13 medals at Glasgow 2014, including 5 gold medals, Indian wrestlers have come a long way.
Now refreshed and rejuvenated after a tiring season of 2017, which was a mixed bag, a 12 member strong contingent will represent India at the wrestling event in the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games 2018. The event will begin from 12th of April at the Carrara Sports & Leisure Centre, which is also the venue for events like netball and gymnastics.
Unlike the previous editions, wrestling at the Gold Coast CWG 2018 has undergone a radical change. Instead of the repechage format, that is the norm throughout the world, the wrestlers will now compete under the following formats:
#1 Repechage Format [i.e. the games with more than 32 wrestlers]
#2 Group Stage Format [i.e. the games with at least 18 wrestlers]
#3 Nordic Format [i.e the games with less than 10 wrestlers]
Following is the schedule for the wrestling tournament at Gold Coast CWG 2018:
#1 12 April: Medal playoffs for Freestyle Wrestling [Men's 57 kg. & 74 kg., Women's 53 kg. & 76 kg.]
#2 13 April: Medal Playoffs for Freestyle Wrestling [Men's 65 kg. & 97 kg., Women's 57 kg. & 68 kg.]
#3 14 April: Medal Playoffs for Freestyle Wrestling [Men's 86 & 125 kg. Women's 50 kg. & 62 kg.]
Indian men's team: Time to go out all guns blazing
Though the standard of competition at the Commonwealth Games is not that high as compared to the likes of Asian Games and the Summer Olympics, the Gold Coast CWG 2018 nonetheless serves a good opportunity for the Indian male wrestlers to better their skills in time for these upcoming events.
Day 1 [i.e. 12 April] will bring Rahul Aware and legendary wrestler Sushil Kumar in action for the Men's 57 kg. and 74 kg. freestyle, respectively. While Rahul will be aiming to make his own mark in his debut CWG, Sushil will have to make himself count, if he wishes to be considered as a potential medal bet for the Tokyo Olympics 2020. Though he had a roller coaster ride off the field since 2016, his fans know that he won't give in without a tough fight.
The upcoming day shall bring forward wrestlers like Bajrang Punia and Mausam Khatri in action. Punia, who is competing in the 65 kg. category, and has a World Under-23 championship silver in his kitty, will give his best to follow in the footsteps of his idol and mentor, Yogeshwar Dutt, who earlier competed in this category and is currently out of action.
On the other hand, Khatri, who is arguably one of the most senior, yet underrated wrestlers in this lot, will be looking to redeem himself in time for the upcoming Asiad.
The final day will see wrestlers like Somveer Kadian and Sumit in action. While Somveer will compete in 86 kg. category, Sumit will compete in the super heavyweight category of 125 kg.
Indian women's team: Time to make themselves count
For the Indian women's team, the Commonwealth Games is the new hunting ground. With the historic podium finish of Sakshi Malik, who won a silver medal in the previous edition held at Glasgow, the pressure for the women wrestlers to win medals has now grown manifold.
Day 1 will bring wrestlers Babita Phogat and Kiran in action. Babita, who emulated the golden performance of her elder sister Gita Phogat, at Glasgow 2014, will aim to defend her title at the Gold Coast CWG.
The following day will see wrestlers Pooja Dhanda and Divya Kakran in action. Pooja, who had once clinched a silver medal at the inaugural Youth Olympics in Singapore in 2010, will look to make her mark at her debut appearance in this Commonwealth Games.
The final day will see star wrestlers Vinesh Phogat and Sakshi Malik. Vinesh, who was robbed of her Rio Olympics gold by a knee injury, will look forward to defend her title of the previous edition, while Sakshi Malik, who is competing in the 62 kg. category, will look to carry the momentum of Rio Olympics.
Following is the team for wrestling at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games 2018:-
Rahul Balasaheb Aware [Men's 57 kg. Freestyle], Bajrang Punia [Men's 65 kg. Freestyle], Sushil Kumar Solanki [Men's 74 kg. Freestyle], Somveer Kadian [Men's 86 kg. Freestyle], Mausam Khatri [Men's 97 kg. Freestyle], Sumit [Men's 125 kg. Freestyle]
Vinesh Phogat [Women's 50 kg. Freestyle], Babita Phogat [Women's 53 kg. Freestyle], Pooja Dhanda [Women's 57 kg. Freestyle], Sakshi Malik [Women's 62 kg. Freestyle], Divya Kakran [Women's 68 kg. Freestyle], Kiran [Women's 76 kg. Freestyle]