CHENNAI: Good omen. That’s how the Indian contingent felt after securing three bronze medals at the Asian Wrestling Championships in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. Good omen, considering Greco-Roman wrestling was never a happy hunting ground in the world arena. In the continent, however, India have been showing traces of improvement. With a busy schedule ahead this year, the team management is indeed content beginning their campaign on a positive note.
Sunil Kumar (87kg), Neeraj (63kg) and Arjun Halakurki (55kg) finished on the podium giving the Greco-Roman contingent a big hope of surpassing their previous best tally (5 medals - 1 gold and 4 bronze) achieved in the 2020 edition in New Delhi. It’s the second medal for both Sunil and Arjun at the continental event — the former had won gold in the 2020 edition and the latter had bagged bronze in the same year. The remaining five Greco-Roman wrestlers from the country will be in action on Wednesday.
Head coach Hargobind Singh considers it a positive sign, especially with big events lined up.
“We can better our 2020 tally as Harpreet Singh (82kg), Sachin Sehrawat (67kg) and Gyanender (60kg) have a good chance of winning medals on Wednesday. This performance is a good sign as it can act as morale booster for wrestlers for the 2022 Asian Games,” the coach told this daily from the competition venue. Arjun and Neeraj compete in non-Olympic weight categories but the coach affirmed that the duo will compete in the Olympic weight categories during the selection trials for the Asiad. “Arjun will move to 60kg while Neeraj will compete in 67kg during the trials,” he added.
The 23-year-old Arjun from Karnataka is also eyeing a place in the Indian team for the Asian Games. “The first target is Asiad in Hangzhou, China. The 2024 Paris Olympics is the ultimate goal as not many wrestlers from Karnakata have represented the country in the quadrennial event,” Arjun said. He started wrestling watching his father Durgappa compete during local dangals. Such was the state of affairs in Arjun’s family that his father was killed in a road accident while hunting for a wild rabbit in his bid to feed those dependent on him.
Neeraj was a freestyle wrestler when he started. He had even clinched a bronze medal in the Asian Championships (cadets) before switching style.
Full story: newindianexpress.com