CHENNAI: Unlike in the past, women wrestlers regrouping at SAI centre in Lucknow on Tuesday can now start group training from the eighth day of their arrival. As per fresh standard operating procedures (SOP) issued by the Sports Authority of India, athletes don't have to wait for 14 days before starting group training. As per the old SOP, the athletes were free to train individually after serving mandatory seven-day quarantine period, but training in groups was allowed only after two weeks.
"The wrestlers have to take RT-PCR tests on the sixth day of their arrival. The report usually comes between 24 hours to 48 hours, which means they can immediately start training in a group from the eighth day if their reports are negative," Sanjay Saraswat, SAI's executive director, told this daily.
Notably, an eight-member Indian para-badminton team had refused to serve the period (7-day quarantine and 7-day of individual training) at the centre last week. They shifted their base to a private academy in the city terming the quarantine period unusual.
As many as 40 wrestlers and nine support staff were named for the camp. For the first time, the camp will also see wrestlers from non-Olympic weight categories. The camp, which will continue till March 31, will serve a dual purpose as it will not only help wrestlers to train for the upcoming international events but also prepare them for the senior national championship. The women's event is scheduled in Agra on January 30 and 31.
Prominent wrestlers including Rio Olympic bronze medallist Sakshi Malik and Anshu Malik, the lone Indian medallist (silver) at the recently-concluded Individual World Cup, will attend the camp. Vinesh Phogat will be the notable absentee as she will be training in Hungary and Poland for the next 40 days.
"These additional seven days of training will help the wrestlers to prepare better especially with the nationals only a month away," added Saraswat. The wrestlers have to produce Covid negative certificates of 96 hours prior to their arrival.
New wrestling hall
Wrestlers presently train at a multi-purpose hall at the centre. However, they will soon start training at a new hall built specifically for the grapplers. "It was expected to be operational by now, but the pandemic delayed its construction. We are expecting it to get ready by January. Once it's complete, the wrestlers will train at this hall," informed the executive director. While the existing hall has four wrestling mats, the new training facility will have six allowing more wrestlers to train simultaneously.