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Foreign coaches to be at helm as Indian wrestlers prepare for Asian Games

Despite winning 11 medals, including five gold at the 2018 Commonwealth Games (CWG 2018) in Gold Coast, the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) has acknowledged that competition at the Asian Games will not be a cakewalk, and hence the move towards foreign coaches.

other sports Updated: Apr 28, 2018 21:04 IST
Navneet Singh
Navneet Singh
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Wrestling Federation of India,WFI,SUshil Kumar
The foreign coaches working with the national squad have a lot to do with the success Indian wrestlers have had at the World Championships, Olympics and other international meets in the past decade, including the two Olympic medals of Sushil Kumar(Getty Images)

In a bid to boost the medals tally at the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) will not rely on home-bred coaches to prepare the top grapplers. Instead, it is focusing on foreign experts to oversee training.

Despite winning 11 medals, including five gold at the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, WFI has acknowledged that competition at the Asian Games will not be a cakewalk, and hence the move towards foreign experts. India had claimed five medals, including one gold, at the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon.

“We have shortlisted the coaches and they are ready to come. We hope to get the green signal from the Sports Authority of India (SAI) soon,” said Vinod Tomar, assistant secretary, WFI.

READ MORE | How Commonwealth Games cost Sushil Kumar and Indian wrestling stars a World Cup shot

The next camp will commence on May 7 and the WFI hopes it will get the approval by then. The big advantage of having foreign coaches, said Tomar is that they are “technically more superior”.

The WFI logic may not go down well with the Indian experts overseeing coaching camps, but it’s no secret that two-time Olympic medallist Sushil Kumar trains only with Georgian coach Vladimir Mestvirishvili, a former national coach.

Currently, former international Jagminder Singh is the men’s freestyle coach, while Kuldip Malik is the women’s coach. Kuldip Singh is overseeing the Greco-Roman camp. The Indian coaches will be expected to assist the foreign experts whenever they take charge.

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After India’s below-par performance in the 2017 World Championships in Paris, the need for a foreign expert was realised by double Olympic medallist Sushil Kumar, who was the then government observer. In his report to the sports ministry, he had recommended the need to appoint foreign experts on priority.

Former national coach and international grappler Kirpa Shankar also attributes India’s success at the Olympic and world level to foreign coaches. “The hard work of Russian and Georgian experts is evident as more grapplers are winning medals at the international level,” said Shankar. “But it all will be frittered away if the technical aspect of training is overlooked in camps because Indian coaches don’t pay too much emphasis on that.”

After unsuccessfully attempting to rope in Russia’s Sergei Beloglazov, a former Olympic and world champion, the WFI plans to hire Iran’s freestyle coach Hossein Karimi for the men’s team, while Georgian Temo Kazarashvili has been shortlisted for the Graeco-Roman squad. The federation is also keen to appoint a Russian coach for the women’s squad.

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The WFI has been searching for foreign experts since September 2017. Impressed with the Japanese women’s team’s success story at the Olympics, they approached the Japanese national federation but got a lukewarm response. The WFI then looked to Georgia and Russia.

The federation also had plans to rope in Mongolian chief coach B Batbayar, but it didn’t work.

First Published: Apr 28, 2018 18:34 IST