India managed two medals and 15 first-round losses at the Wrestling Worlds with the win- loss ratio of 25-36, although a gold medal evaded them. The WFI is setting a change in the system where according to track record of a wrestler will be sent to an international tournament.
Indian wrestlers had left for Budapest on October 8th as they were supposed to attend a preparatory camp in Hungary on October 20th. However, wrestler Mausam Khatri missed both the events and was present in Budapest just two days before the tournaments begun. He went on to lose 2-12 to Jose Robertti of Venezuela in the 97Kg category.
However, WFI secretary Vinod Tomar stood beside the athlete stating, “Mausam had some personal reason to not go early, which I cannot reveal now. But he lost to an unknown wrestler and even we are upset with that. We will ask for reasons from him.”
Mausam was however known to be playing in a Dangal for Ajay Baran in Haryana while his fellow wrestlers were practicing at Budapest.
The only saving grace for India were the two medals that Bajrang Punia and Pooja Dhanda won, making these world championships the second best after the 2013 edition which was, incidentally, also held in Budapest. Impressive performances by Ritu Phogat (50 kg) and Ritu Malik (65 kg) earned them fifth-place finishes. Sumit Malik (125 kg) reached the semi-finals, surprising everyone, but surrendered his medal bout rather tamely.
The Indian squad consisted of 30 Wrestlers - 10 in men freestyle, in women freestyle and 10 in Greco-Roman style, only 2 medals could be managed, none of which was Gold. Also, out of 30, only 15 could win the opening round while in the Greco Roman style, only 2 could win the opening round out of 10.
“We will review this performance. Despite the two medals, many wrestlers lost in the first round, which is unacceptable. During the upcoming Nationals, will have the performance reviewed and act on it,” said Tomar.
On the mat, the Indian Wrestlers have a smaller game as compared to the forward teams, for example Rio Olympic bronze medallist Sakshi Malik could have reached her first ever medal bout at the senior Worlds had she not adapted a passive style of wrestling. She conceded a point in the final second of her repechage bout and lost 2-3.
The Greco-Roman wrestlers also cut sorry figures. Manish Kundu and Hardeep Singh lost their bouts in the 67 kg and 97 kg against lowly wrestlers from Latvia and Morocco. The case wasn’t any different in the men’s freestyle, with Jitender Kinha (74 kg), Sachin Rathi (79 kg), Pawan Kumar (86 kg) and Khatri losing in first round.
“The young wrestlers lost to these old wrestlers in the trials and we are bound to send them,” Tomar explained. “But now, the federation will take some calls like sending the best wrestler in certain categories even if he or she loses in the trials.”
The Indian Federation is now counting on young talents to be trained for 2019 Worlds in Astana, Kazakhstan that will serve as the qualifying round for Tokyo Olympics.
"We don’t want any old wrestlers going there and losing so during the upcoming national competition we hope we can get some new wrestlers and get rid of these old guys,” Tomar said.
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