Four years ago, Alka Tomar's bronze at the World Championships in China was a shot in the arm for women's wrestling. Today, every woman wrestler in the country wants to replicate the performance.
Alka (24), who is the only Indian woman to have a World Championship medal (a bronze) in her kitty, has set her sight on the World Championship next month. Soon after the trip to Moscow, the target is to claim top honours in the Commonwealth Games where women's wrestling is making its debut.
"For the last two years, we have been preparing hard for the Games and if all goes well, we will surely make it to the podium in all seven weight categories," said Alka who will be competing in Moscow and New Delhi in the 59kg weight category.
The women's camp is on at the National Institute of Sports in Patiala and Alka is satisfied with the facilities. "We are getting the best amenities and I am thankful for the support that we have recieved," she said.
A resident of village Sisauli near Meerut, Alka was introduced to the sport by her father, Nain Singh. "Fifteen years ago, my father introduced me to coach Jabbar Singh, and what happened is history," said Alka. "Earlier, the villagers criticised me for entering a male-dominated sport, but my father supported me. Today, we have around 50-60 girls at the centre who regularly come for practice, and they all want to win medals for the country," she added.
At the ongoing national camp, there are seven girls, including Alka, from the Meerut wrestling centre. Apart from the Doha Asian Games bronze, the 2008 Arjuna awardee won gold at last year's Commonwealth Championship in Jalandhar and a bronze in the Asian Championship in May.
"Alka's practice is as per schedule and going by her form I expect nothing less than gold from her," said national coach, PR Sondhi. "The girls in all the weight categories are capable of getting us medals," he added. At the Games, Canada and Nigeria will be the hosts' main opponents.
Place of birth: Sisauli village near Meerut
Weight: 59 kg
2006: Bronze in World Championship
2008: Arjuna Award
Target: 2012 London Olympics gold