Harpal Singh Bedi / New Delhi
A 30-member strong contingent of freestyle and Greco Roman wrestlers, including 10 in the women section will represent India in the Junior (U-20) World Wrestling Championships, to be held in Slovakia from September 17 and 23.
Indian wrestlers had managed to claim a bronze in each category—men’s freestyle, Greco Roman and women’s freestyle—in the Paris world meet last year after the team had gone without medals for three years.
The last time India won gold at the world juniors was way back in 2001during the Sofia (Bulgaria) meet where wrestlers had picked two gold medals.
Since then the precious yellow metal has eluded the Indians and the present contingent, which includes among others Deepak Punia, Sachin Rathi, Suraj and Sandeep Singh Maan, would want to set the records straight.
Confident of the team’s strong show, the reigning Asian Junior gold medallist, Deepak Punia said, “We had done well at the Asian Juniors and we will be carrying forward that momentum as we take the mat at the Junior World Championship.”
The Asian gold medal winner, who has the potential to beat the best, would be eager to return home with a gold this time around. Of course, there are other wrestlers in lesser weight categories like Vijay, Sagar and Saurabh whom we can expect to spring a surprise.
As for women wrestling, India can be hopeful of some exceptional performances. The women’s contingent will be spearheaded by 2018 Asian Cadet Gold Medallist and a 2017 Cadet World Championship Anshu among others.
“We are thrilled to be part of the Indian squad and we will give our best shot. We have trained well and worked hard on our technique; we are confident of a good show,” said Anshu, who will contest in the 59 Kg.
The Greco Roman events have been India’s Achilles’ heel but, over a period of time, our wrestlers have shown improvement. This gives hopes for the country, especially from Sajan who won a bronze medal in last year’s world championship in 77kg.
Speaking of the upcoming endeavour, WFI president Brij Bushan Sharan Singh sounded very upbeat and confident. “I have a lot of faith in the young talents that will be on view in Slovakia. The coaches and players have worked hard, I am very optimistic of their performance. Our aim will be to flourish and perform well in all age groups,” said the WFI chief.