There is no doubt in my mind that the future is bright for Indian wrestling. A number of talented wrestlers are taking up the sport every year, and I am sure they will sharpen their skills to shine at the highest level. Yes, at present, the ongoing controversy (due to the wrestlers’ protest and allegations against Wrestling Federation of India president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh) has impacted the sport. But it is a temporary phase. The young wrestlers are not really affected by the distraction and are focused on their daily training. If you remember, the sport was also affected by COVID-19 for a considerable period of time but came out stronger. This time, too, it will come out of the trouble. Over the years, the sport has changed a lot. The tactics and training have changed. There is a lot of emphasis on speedwork and stamina. In our time, we used to focus on the technical side of the game and learn by watching others. Our wrestlers needed to change with time, and they have done it well. The facilities — the stadium, gym, training equipment, financial support, scientific support, and exposure trips — have increased, and the government is supporting the sport in a big way in comparison to our times when there were fewer events and less money.
Among the male wrestlers, after (Olympic silver medallist) Ravi Dahiya, (his Chhatrasal Stadium mate) Aman Sehrawat has proved his worth. He performed very well in the Asian Championships to take the gold medal. His confidence is remarkable. There are a few others who have been performing consistently. There are several young female wrestlers who can excel in the coming years. Antim Panghal, the World Under-20 champion and Asian silver medallist, is the best of the lot. She has done well in a short period of time and needs to get rid of some weaknesses to realise her potential. The system of fielding different teams for different age groups, such as under17 and under23, has contributed to the youngsters’ growth. The clear demarcation of age groups has allowed wrestlers at every level to flourish and has not stalled the development of younger wrestlers. I hope I can contribute to the development of Indian wrestling by producing some talented grapplers from my own academy, which I started with my coach (Jabar Singh Som) and my brother at my village of Sisoli (near Meerut) four months ago, and give something back to the sport.
As told to Y. B. Sarangi
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