Five of six Indian wrestlers out of Olympic-quota contention

BELGRADE, Sep 18: India’s men’s freestyle wrestlers cut a sorry figure at the World Championships as five of the six Olympic-quota contenders have exited the prestigious tournament and only Abhimanyu could reach the medal round in the non-Olympic 70kg weight class.

What was more disappointing was that the Indian wresters lost to rivals from the nations that are not known for their wrestling prowess, raising suspicion over their fitness before flying to Belgrade.

Sachin Mor (79kg) lost his repechage round by technical superiority to North Macedonia’s Ahmad Magomedov while Anuj Kumar (65kg) could not even clear the Qualification round, losing 7-8 to Mexico’s Austin Klee Gomez.

Mexico and North Macedonia are not the nations against whom the Indians are expected to lose their bouts. It has been learnt that Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) had suggested the Sports Ministry to conduct medical examination of the selected wrestlers before sending them for participation, saying that many of them are possibly carrying injuries.

“A few of the wrestlers selected are injured, especially 65kg freestyle wrestler. I suggest that a medical examination should be done before leaving India so that necessary replacement can be done in time,” WFI Secretary General VN Prasood had written to Sports Secretary on September 11 in his letter.

India’s biggest hope Aman Sehrawat (57kg) had lost to reigning world champion Albania’s Zelimkhan Abakarov in the quarterfinals but with the Russia-born wrestler failing to reach the final, the repechage door was shut on the Indian.

In the 70kg bronze play-off, Abhimanyu lost by technical superiority to Armenia’s Arman Andreasyan.

Akash Dahiya (61kg), Naveen (74kg), Sachin Mor (79kg), Sandeep Singh  Mann (86kg), Pruthviraj (92kg), Sumit (125kg) all fell at different stages of the tournament.  Sahil is competing in 97kg, which is an Olympic weight category.  All the Indian wrestlers are competing as neutral athletes because world governing body UWW did not allow them to compte under India flag.

This was because UWW had suspended the WFI after IOA-appointed ad-hoc committee, led by Bhupender Singh Bajwa, could not conduct the elections on time.  Even if any of the Indian wrestlers earn the quotas, they will belong to IOA and to the wrestler who wins a place in next year’s Olympics. (PTI)