Doubts over wrestlers returning to camp

The Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) may hold preparatory camps for Olympic quota holders and the medal prospects after the coronavirus subsides in the nation.

Wrestler Bajrang Punia (PTI Image)

Wrestler Bajrang Punia (PTI Image)

The Wrestling Federation of India is planning to hold national camp for Olympic quota holders and the medal prospects in May end, if normalcy is restored. However the body worries that the number of grapplers might reduce significantly.

Speaking to Mail Today, WFI assistant secretary Vinod Tomar said organising camp at this time, even if the lockdown ends on May 3, would be ‘really tough’. “I think our major wrestlers would avoid participating in the camp. Our is a contact sport and nobody would want to get infected before Tokyo Olympics. We want our players to start preparation but not at their health risk.

“If the lockdown gets over on May 3, then we will think of holding the camp in May end. But let’s see what happens. We just want our wrestler to get ready for the Olympics with proper care and health,” Tomar said.

Mail Today has learnt that WFI president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh spoke to national coaches and has asked them to interact with wrestlers to draw a roadmap for the future. “We are also in constant touch with our wrestlers. They are practicing at home or the akhada where they live. Routine exercise is what they are

following right now,” said Tomar.

“Jitender Kumar lives with Bajrang Punia so he is training with him. Vinesh Phogat is also working hard. Same many other wrestlers are training with their cousins or partners living with them. Everybody wants to get back to mat but the situation right now is dangerous and we want everything to sort out soon,” he added.

A national coach told the paper that, “We have been in regular touch with the grapplers, especially the ones who compete in the Olympic weight categories.” As many as 40 grapplers in each style — freestyle, Greco-Roman and women’s wrestling — were part of the national camps before the WFI suspended them due to the deadly Coronavirus pandemic.

Notably, suspension of camps apart from closure of all akharas across the country has left wrestlers to fend for themselves. Most of them are training on their own in their respective hometowns. The United World Wrestling had postponed its championships that were planned before June 30. It had also cancelled all international tournaments in this time frame and had suggested all the national federations to cancel their events.

It will be interesting to see if the national camp happens, how many wrestlers will participate.

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