‘India need another 5-10 years to produce a wrestling champion’
Former national coach Yashvir Singh believes that India will take another 5-10 years to produce a world champion in wrestling.Updated: Aug 29, 2017 22:59 IST
Wrestling Dronacharya award winner and former national chief coach Yashvir Singh believes India is not ready to produce someone who can step into the shoes of two-time Olympic medallist Sushil Kumar.
“Honestly, I don’t see someone of Sushil’s caliber in the national squad at the moment. It might take long to fill the gap,” he told HT. Singh beileves India might have to wait another five to 10 years to churn out another grappler of Sushil’s ability in 70kg or 74kg category.
The Olympic Task Force, set up by the sports ministry to prepare action plan for the next three Games, has observed that wrestling is a discipline which has the potential for a podium finish at the 2020 Tokyo Games.
However, with just three years to go for the Tokyo Games, India’s star wrestlers including Rio Olympic Games bronze medallist Sakshi Malik have failed to make an impression in the just-concluded World Wrestling Championships at Paris. Going by that, it appears a tall ask to hope for a medal in Tokyo from the current crop, feels Yashvir.
His observations are based on the overall performance of Amit Dhankar (70kg), who failed to clear the first round in Paris and Praveen Rana (74kg), who lost in the pre-quarterfinals.
Yashvir has been associated with freestyle wrestling for over three decades and he was instrumental in guiding Sushil to podium finishes in back-to-back Olympic Games (2008, 2012) as well as the world title in 2010.
Yashvir said, if top grapplers aren’t able to give a good account of themselves in the global event, it’s a big concern.
India fielded a strong 24-member team, but majority of them lost in the first round in their respective weight groups. Even those who got a chance in the repechage, failed to take advantage and win bronze in the play-offs.
Yashvir also believes that newly crowned Asian champion Baijrang Punia (65kg), considered to have the potential to surpass Olympic medallist Yogeshwar Dutt, needs to be more consistent.
The Dronacharya said: “He (Punia) lost his play-off bout tamely giving an impression that he wasn’t at his best. If grapplers aren’t able to peak at the right time, there is something wrong in the coaching system.”
Another former chief coach and international wrestler Gian Singh, who has been associated with the Greco Roman style said: “In India, only those wrestlers who fail in the freestyle make it to the Greco Roman. It is major concern. Greco Roman is easier to learn compared to freestyle, but a good blend of strength and technique is a must,” he said.
In Greco Roman, India had fielded grapplers in eight categories but only Gyanender Dahiya reached the play-off in the 59kg.
Gian Singh, who was national coach from 2003 to 2005, said: “Freestyle is in our blood as we start from a young age in several akharas across the country. We also have weekly ‘dangals’. It contributes to the development of freestyle wrestling. But that kind of resources are missing in Greco Roman. With this current set up it will always be that an odd wrestler will earn Olympic qualification but a podium finish will be beyond our reach,” he said.