National Wrestling Championship preview

An opportunity for the fringe aspirants to stake their claims in the Olympics year should extract the best out of them at the three-day National Wrestling Championship which begins at the KD Jadhav Stadium here on Tuesday.

Dilli Veer's Vinesh Phogat (right) in action during her victory over Bengaluru Yodhas' Alyssa Lampe in PWL. Phogat will be one of the star attractions at the National Championships.   -  G. P. Sampath Kumar

An opportunity for the fringe aspirants to stake their claims in the Olympics year should extract the best out of them at the three-day National Wrestling Championship which begins at the KD Jadhav Stadium here on Tuesday.

Coming on the heels of the path-breaking Pro Wrestling League (PWL) which brought into focus some of the finest international wrestlers, the National championship is likely to suffer in terms of glamour if not competitive flavour.

Big names such as Sushil Kumar, Yogeshwar Dutt, Amit Dahiya may not be seen in action due to various issues, but that will provide opportunity to several up-and-coming wrestlers to showcase their talent.

It is bound to be a test of endurance and strength for a few participants recovering from the taxing schedule of the PWL. Back-to-back contests in the National championship would demand prime fitness but the temptation to reserve their best for the Olympics trials and qualification events in the next few months may lead to lack of fireworks on the mat.

Given the popularity of the sport in this part of the country, one can expect the organisers – Railway Sports Promotion Board – to lay out an ideal platform. More than 700 wrestlers from 30 teams are expected to fight it out for honours.

Railways, Services and Haryana should be the frontrunners for the team titles. Railways are the defending champion in freestyle, Services in Greco Roman and Haryana in the women's category.

Vinesh Phogat is the star attraction in women's section. Some of the other women wrestlers to watch out are Sarita Mor, Sakshi Malik, Krishna and Navjot Kaur. For Railways coach Sujeet Maan, “the strength of the women wrestlers” is an asset.

Services coach Kuldip Singh claimed, “We should dominate 59kg, 66kg, 71kg and 130kg in Greco Roman and 57 kg, 65 kg, 74 kg and 125 kg in freestyle. Expect some surprises.”

In men's freestyle, Rahul Aware, Nitin Rathi, Sandeep Tomar, Rajneesh, Bajrang, Pardeep, Mausam Khatri and Satyavrat Kadiyan are likely to make a mark. Nine titles would be decided on the opening day.