National Wrestling C’ship: Sushil Kumar adds to the glamour

While Sushil is the lone prominent figure in men’s freestyle wrestling, Rio Olympics bronze medallist Sakshi Malik and Geeta Phogat are the star attractions in the women’s field at the four-day event that begins on Thursday.

Sushil Kumar will be participating in his first major tourney after the 2014 Commonwealth Games.   -  Sushil Kumar Verma

Two-time Olympic medallist Sushil Kumar's much awaited return to the National Championship after a gap of eight years has added immense glamour to the event, which will be held at the Abhay Pradhal Indoor Stadium here from Thursday.

Sushil last competed in the Nationals in Gonda, Uttar Pradesh, where he had claimed the 66kg top honour, following his bronze medal winning feat in the 2008 Beijing Games. Also, he will participate in a notable competition after his 2014 Commonwealth Games gold medal winning performance in Glasgow.

Read: Sushil Kumar to compete in Nationals

After Narsingh Yadav secured an Olympics quota place in 74kg freestyle category in 2015, Sushil had demanded a trial between him and Narsingh in an attempt to take part in the 2016 Rio Olympics. It had snowballed into a major controversy.

Since then, Sushil, a former World champion, has been out of action. His decision to take part in the Nationals and the Pro Wrestling League ahead of the Asian Games and Commonwealth Games next year has raised questions as to how the 34-year-old star will be able to cope with the rising competition in domestic and international events.

World championship medallist Geeta Phogat (59kg) is also making a comeback after a while. The last time she took part in the Nationals was in 2013 in Kolkata, where she had taken the 59kg gold medal.

Rio Olympics bronze medallist Sakshi Malik (62kg) and Commonwealth Games gold medallist Vinesh Phogat (55kg) are the other stars who will make the event a star-studded affair.

World championship medallist Bajrang Punia (61kg), who has reportedly pulled out in the last minute, will be a prominent absentee.

In Greco Roman, the experienced Ravinder Kumar (57kg) and Hardeep (97kg) will be among the top wrestlers to be seen in action.

Greco Roman wrestlers waiting for their turn during weighing in on the eve of the National wrestling championship in Indore on Wednesday.   -  Y.B. SARANGI

 

Following the announcement changes in rules and weight categories by the United World Wrestling, the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) decided to have competitions in 10 weight classes instead of eight.

However, the new format of completing the fights of a particular weight over two days time instead of one will not be applied here.

The discrepancy had become the source of a controversy but the WFI justified its stance saying the rules were meant to be applied from next year and conducting fights in 10 weights would help the wrestlers prepare for the Commonwealth championship in December.

"Since we are not getting enough competitions, I chose to participate in the Nationals. This will help me identify my shortcomings and rectify them,” said Vinesh, whose training was affected due to a recent concussion during her training."

— Vinesh Phogat