Asian Junior Wrestling C'ships: Deepak Punia looking to make it big

Former junior national champion Sachin Rathi and Sombir would be the other contenders in the Freestyle category.

REPRESENTATIVE IMAGE: The Asian Junior Wrestling Championships is all set to start this Tuesday.   -  AFP

The Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) would be hoping to better not just its tally of medals from the previous edition but also the colour of the medals when the Asian Junior Wrestling Championships begin here on Tuesday.

It would not be easy, though, and the biggest hope would be from Deepak Punia, who has been in good form since last year. A Cadet world champion in 2016 and fifth at the Junior Worlds last year, Punia (86kg) won bronze at the recent Tbilisi Grand Prix even though it was overshadowed by the shock defeat of Sushil Kumar in the same competition. Punia was also part of the Indian team at the World Cup earlier this year, one of only two Indians to manage a win there.

Former junior national champion Sachin Rathi (70kg) and Sombir would be the other strong contenders for the host in the Freestyle category while Sajan (77kg), who won bronze in the previous edition, would be looking to change the colour of his medal.

Among the women Divya Kakran in the 68kg would be followed keenly given that she is the only one from the Indian squad to be named for the upcoming Asian Games as well and, as such, the competition would be ideal to gauge her preparation for the continental event next month.

Divya, who beat Asian champion Navjot Kaur in the selection trials last month, had won silver in the 2017 Asian championships at the same venue and bronze at the Commonwealth games earlier this year and, as such, would be among the favourites. Besides these, Anshu (62kg) and Sonika (72kg) would be hoping to continue their good form from the recent World Cadet championships, where they won bronze each.

India had finished with 13 medals in 2017 but only two golds.