India is set to field a strong squad of freestyle wrestlers as they begin their campaign at the Under-23 World Championships in Budapest on Monday. Former junior Asian champion Sharvan Tomar in the 65 kg category, while Pinki, Nisha Dahiya, Naina Kanwal, and Reshma Mane will lead the women’s events.
On Monday, five Indian wrestlers — Naveen (57 kg), Naveen (70 kg), Tomar (65 kg), Veerdev Gulia (79 kg) and Akash Antil (97 kg) — will get into the action. While Tomar is returning after a long injury layoff, others like Naveen, Gulia in 79 kg and Gaurav Baliyan in 74 kg category are hoping to make their mark on the world stage.
Gulia had previously won a bronze medal at the Junior World Championships, while Baliyan is a cadet World Championships silver medallist. In the Greco-Roman category, it will be two-time junior World Championships medallist Sajan Bhanwal bearing the flag for the nation.
Based on the current form, the Wrestling Federation of India is expecting a better show as compared to last year, when India only managed to win one medal — a silver in the 57 kg category by Ravi Dahiya. The federation had arranged a 15-day rigorous training camp for men’s and the women’s team at Sonipat and Lucknow respectively.
Meanwhile, in the women’s events, the talented bunch will hope to improve on the blank they drew at last year’s World Championships. The women wrestlers will get into the thick of the action after the freestyle events, while the Greco-Roman is competition scheduled on the final three days.
India has fond memories of the first edition of the U-23 tournament in 2017 in Poland, where Bajrang Punia led the nation to three silver medals. The second time out, Dahiya clinched a long medal before eventually proving his mettle at the 2019 Senior World Championships as well by claiming the bronze and confirming the 57 kg freestyle category berth at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.