Wrestling is one sport that has really captured the public imagination after Sushil Kumar’s heroic bronze medal effort at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The sport maintained its dominating presence in the northern part of the country and spread its wings across the country at a fair clip.
Wrestling went up a few notches up in popularity when India garnered two medals on the mat at the 2012 London Olympics – so much so that India was seen as a new wrestling force and was talked about in the same breath as the likes of USA, Iran, Russia, Japan among others.
Clearly, the expectations from the Indian wrestlers are quite high given the 2016 Rio Olympics is just more than a year away. The Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) has been doing its bit to ensure the sport takes off from the highs of the past two Olympics.
One must applaud the WFI for setting a precedent of sorts by recently cracking the whip on thirteen wrestlers, who offered lame excuses for missing training sessions or even argued with their coaches. What’s more, the WFI has arranged training sessions with the Georgian grapplers as the group of wrestlers were preparing for the Rio Olympics.
A surprise visit proved costly for few wrestlersIt is pertinent to mention that the WFI had been sounded out about wrestlers missing training sessions on flimsy grounds. WFI President Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh paid a ‘surprise visit’ to the SAI’s Sonepat centre and talked with the coaches and wrestlers and promptly decided to dump them out of the camp. Of course, the likes of stalwarts like Sushil Kumar and Yogeshwar Dutt are known to be ‘disciplined guys’ and it is no surprise that they along with talented duo of Amit Kumar and Bajrang were not part of the thirteen suspended grapplers, which also includes 2010 New Delhi Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Joginder Singh.
In fact, Sushil and Yogeshwar are epitomes of discipline and hard work and it is a surprise that the young fringe grapplers cannot take a leaf out of their books. The suspension of these wrestlers may be detrimental to the country’s Olympic preparations, but a strong message had to be send out and the WFI led by Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, must be commended for initiating stringent action. Eleven out of the thirteen wrestlers are Greco-roman wrestlers – Greco roman is not known to be India’s forte over the recent years unlike freestyle wrestling and one hopes the suspension of these wrestlers will not dent our Olympic preparations.
“Some of these wrestlers have been giving different excuses for missing their training sessions, which are meant to be part of their preparations for the Rio Olympics. The WFI has send out a strong message, which was much needed,” said an WFI official.
Indian wrestling needs to ‘talk big on the mat’ and such unbecoming player behaviour must be nipped in the bud if we are to make a robust podium finish in Rio.