Federation critical of Indian wrestlers' performance at the Worlds
Despite returning with the biggest-ever haul of five medals, WFI feels that not much was noteworthy from the Indian grapplers at the recently-concluded World Championships and demanded an explanation of the same.
Despite returning with the biggest-ever haul of five medals, the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) believes that not much was noteworthy from the Indian grapplers at the recently-concluded World Championships and demanded an explanation of the same. While Vinesh Phogat, Ravi Kumar Dahiya, Bajrang Punia, and Rahul Aware each capped a wonderful week in Nur Sultan with four bronze medals, Deepak Punia settled for silver after pulling out of the World Championships final due to an injury.
India’s wrestling body, WFI questioned the poor performance of Sakshi Malik, the entire Greco-Roman wrestling fraternity, and Bajrang Punia’s long-time personal coach Shako Bentinidis, whose expectations went dry at the event. WFI president Brij Bhushan Saran Singh questioned Bentinidis for challenging referee’s call that he believes cost Bajrang the semifinal bout.
World no. 1 Bajrang won a bronze medal after beating Mongolia’s Tulga Tumur Ochir 8-7. In the quarter-finals, however, the ace Indian eased past North Korea’s Jong Choi Son 8-1 to secure an Olympic quota in the men’s 65kg event. But his dreams came crashing down in the semi-final against Kazak wrestler Daulet Niyazbekov.
Despite a scoreline of 9-9, Bajrang was eliminated as the result came down to the four-point hold that went in favour of Niyazbekov at the start of the second period. The four-point call by the referee in favour of Kazakhstan embroiled into a major controversy, with Bajrang claiming that he was denied points due to poor refereeing. His coach Bentinidis had challenged the call but was rendered unsuccessful, which made him concede points to his opponent.
While Vinesh Phogat confirmed an Olympic berth besides winning bronze, Sakshi has not seen a similar impact. It appears evident that her grip is loosening, for it was in the continuance of the recent struggles that she had lost in the quarterfinals at the Worlds last year. She, however, had made a first-round exit a year before that.
Distressed over the performances, Singh had personal discussions with the grapplers soon after the bouts at the Worlds got over. The federation believes that Sakshi’s form, in particular, has been raising concerns. Sakshi, competing in the women’s 62kg category, suffered a first-round defeat to Aminat Adeniyi of Nigeria.
The form of a few freestylers like Divya Kakran, who competes in the 68kg category, was a matter of concern for WFI. Divya had a rather dismal start at the Worlds this year, as she was eliminated in her first bout in the 68kg weight class. Besides, India did not see much of a success in the zone of Greco-Roman wrestling. The federation wondered why the desired results are far from being achieved, especially at a time when the athletes are provided with the requisite facilities.