Belgrade: India’s men’s freestyle wrestlers cut a sorry figure at the World Championships as none of them could earn quota for next year’s Paris Olympics or win a medal.
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 11 September in his letter, a copy of which is in possession of PTI.
India’s biggest hope Aman Sehrawat (57kg) had lost to reigning world champion, Albania’s Zelimkhan Abakarov in the quarter-finals 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), Sahil (97kg) and Sumit (125kg) all fell at different stages of the tournament.
The next opportunity to earn Olympic quota will come at Asian and World Qualifiers next year.
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 — women or Greco Roman — earn the quotas, they will belong to IOA and to the wrestler who wins a place in next year’s Olympics.