CHENNAI: After resumption of camps for weightlifters and cyclists in Patiala and Manipur respectively, the Sports Authority of India (SAI) is planning to restart the wrestling camp. Even before the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) was de-recognised because of the Delhi High Court order, the SAI officials have already been in touch with officials on resumption of camps. It is understood that even the athletes’ are being approached and their opinion sought.
A final decision on resumption is likely to be taken by next week after taking into consideration athletes’ suggestions. The camp, if organised, will be held in limited weight categories in all the three styles. Indian wrestlers had already won Olympic quotas in four weight categories with Ravi Dahiya (57kg), Bajrang Punia (65kg) and Deepak Punia (86kg) making a cut in freestyle while Vinesh Phogat (53) securing a place in the women’s wrestling.
“SAI has been in touch with us for the resumption of camp. We have sought wrestlers’ feedback. At the moment, the plan is to invite two wrestlers each from five Olympic weight categories in men’s and women’s wrestling and two grapplers each from three Greco-Roman divisions,” Vinod Tomar, WFI’s assistant secretary, said.
Earlier, the camps were suspended in mid-March. Even though the WFI planned to resume training in Olympic weight categories but wrestlers’ reluctance and wrestling being a contact sport thwarted its plans. The federation had then shortlisted five categories in freestyle (57kg, 65kg, 74kg and 86kg) and six divisions in women’s wrestling (50kg, 53kg, 57kg, 62kg and 68kg) for the purpose. Two categories — 77kg and 87kg — from Greco-Roman style were also chosen.
“Around 26 wrestlers along with two coaches, a physiotherapist and a masseur could be there in the camp. They have to follow the Covid-19 protocols. Obviously, they cannot train with their sparring partners at the moment,” Tomar added. He also informed that camps will be held separately for men and women wrestlers. “Like the past, men will camp in Sonepat while women will train in Lucknow. Given the situation, the coronavirus cases are rising in every city so holding Lucknow unsafe makes no logic.”
Women wrestlers cagey
As was the case in the past, the women wrestlers looked apprehensive to join the camp fearing for their safety. “WFI spoke to us but I personally feel it’s not safe at the moment to resume the camp. There is no competition in the near future so it’s not worth taking the risk. Also, the venue for women, Lucknow, is not safe,” said Pooja Dhanda, the 2018 Worlds 57kg bronze medallist.
Sakshi Malik, the lone woman wrestler from the country to win an Olympic medal, though has no qualm in attending the camp but feels strength should be adequate to ensure proper training. “At least 15-20 women should be there in the camp otherwise the camp will not serve its purpose,” said the Rio Olympic medallist.