After two successful days, India returned empty handed from the World Championships in Budapest, Hungary, on Wednesday. But another bronze wasn’t very far. Narsingh Yadav (74kg) missed bronze by a whisker as he fell in the final bout of the repechage.
The women’s team disappointed though as Nirmala Devi (48kg) and teenager Vinesh (51kg) failed to make an impact.
Narsingh, who was part of the London Olympics squad, lost to Shabanau Ali of Belarus. After winning his opening bout against Russia’s Kakhaber Khubezhty, Narsingh lost to reigning champion Jordan Burroughs of USA in the second round. He got another chance as Burroughs made it to the final.
In the repechage round, Narsingh defeated Gamdi Dzhalilov of Tajikistan and Jabrayil Hassanov (Azerbaijan).
But India will take heart from the fact that youngsters have shown mettle. Both 19-year-old grapplers Amit Kumar and Bajrang Punia winning medals in their maiden senior World Championship shows India’s next generation is ready to take over the reins from Olympic stars Sushil Kumar and Yogeshwar Dutt.
In the current seven-member men’s freestyle squad, three — Amit, Bajrang and Satyawarth — are below 20 as are Vinesh and Pooja Dhanda in the women’s squad. All are participating in their first senior world meet.
Pooja, who won silver in the Youth Olympics came into the World Championship squad defeating last year’s world championship medal winner Babita in the 55kg category.
“Sushil Kumar has been competing in the World Championship since 2002-03 and he won a medal after seven years in 2010. But both Amit and Bajrang have proven their mettle by making it to the podium in their first appearance in the worlds. This shows that wrestling in India is moving in the right direction and our new crop is ready to contribute equally,” says national camp coach Mahavir Singh, who is also an Arjuna Award winner.
Young guns blaze
At the London Olympics, Amit was the youngest participating wrestler and he made it to the quarterfinals. In Budapest, Bajrang is a replacement for Olympic medallist Yogeshwar Dutt, who is out of action for a while because of a knee injury. And the teenager’s technique and presence of mind has already left a mark in the world arena.
“Youngsters winning laurels is a good sign. Because one day, the seniors have to retire and they have to take charge and if all goes well, I am sure we will be winning more medals in the 2016 Rio Olympics,” says Satpal Pehlwan of the Chhatrasal stadium.
This is not a flash in the pan as India’s youngsters have done really well and had won 17 medals in the junior Asian Championship in Thailand and 15 at the Asian cadet meet in Mongolia this year.