Litmus test for Indian Greco-Roman team at Asian Wrestling Championships

India’s Greco-Roman team will face a litmus test when they step onto the mat at the Asian Wrestling Championships which kick off in Mongolia on Tuesday.

The Indian contingent returned empty-handed at the 2021 edition in Almaty, which also served as a qualifier for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. India had won 14 medals, but all in the freestyle category.

India’s Greco-Roman head coach Hargobind Singh says the podium will depend on securing favorable draws.

“An easy game in the preliminary round is good while a tough draw is likely to drain the energy in the first round,” the India coach said over the phone from Ulaanbaatar.

Sunil Kumar, India’s star Greco-Roman wrestler in the men’s 87kg category, will be one to watch. Kumar ended India’s 27-year drought by winning gold at the 2020 Asian Wrestling Championships held in February in Delhi.

India is not a powerhouse in the Greco-Roman category, but Kumar is confident of securing a podium in Ulaanbaatar.

“There are two-three good wrestlers in my group. But I am fit for the challenge,” Kumar said over the phone from Ulaanbaatar.

According to the official draw, Kumar is seeded in the quarter-finals and will face Japan’s Sumi Masato in his first match.

India’s general team at Asian Wrestling Championships

The Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) will field a strong freestyle wrestling squad for the Asian meet. Ravi Dahiya, India’s Tokyo 2020 Olympics silver medalist in men’s 57kg and Bajrang Punia, bronze medal winner in men’s 65kg, are part of the 10-member men’s freestyle squad .

World championship silver medalist Anshu Malik will lead India’s charge in the women’s freestyle event.

The 2022 Asian Wrestling Championships will also see strong Japanese and Chinese teams. Japan and China missed the 2021 edition of the continental encounter due to pandemic-related travel issues.

Team: Greco-Roman: Arjun Halakurki, Gyanender, Neeraj, Sachin Sehrawat, Vikas, Sajan, Harpreet Singh, Sunil Kumar, Ravi and Prem.

Men: Freestyle: Ravi Dahiya, Mangal Kadiyan, Bajrang Punia, Naveen, Yash, Gourav Baliyan, Deepak Punia, Viky, Satyawart Kadiyan, Anirudh Kumar.

Women: Freestyle: Manisha, Swati Shinde, Sushma Shokeen, Anshu Malik, Sarita Mor, Manisha, Radhika, Sonika Hooda, Nikki and Sudesh.

Also read: Sandeep Kumar wins back-to-back titles, disappointing day for Priyanka Goswami at Indian Open Race Walking Championships

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Robert J. King