No medal contenders in the Greco-Roman category. But in Freestyle, Indian Women and Men are ready to rumble at the World Wrestling Championship.
A contingent of 30 Indian wrestlers will compete in the World Wrestling Championship, from Saturday 14 to Sunday 22 September 2019. The Championship to be held in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan, will feature 1,002 wrestlers from 100 nations. India has 10 wrestlers each in the Men’s Greco-Roman, Men’s Freestyle and Women’s categories.
Greco-Roman wrestling forbids any hold below the waist. Freestyle wrestling allows the use of legs as both defensive and offensive weapons.
India has no medal contenders in the Greco-Roman category. But thanks to Georgian coach Temo Kasarashvili, India got 3 silver and one bronze Greco-Roman medal at the Asian Wrestling Championship this year. Watch out for Gurpreet Singh (77kg), Harpreet Singh (82kg) and Sunil Kumar (87kg) from 14 to 17 September. Women’s wrestling is from 18 to 20 September, and Men’s Freestyle over the 21 and 22 September weekend.
Watch out for:
Bajrang Punia is the Number One seed in the 65kg category. The 25-year-old won silver at last year's World Championship in Budapest, Hungary, and four gold medals this year – at the Tbilisi Grand Prix in Georgia; the Ali Aliev tournament in Dagestan, Russia; the Dan Kolov tournament in Ruse, Bulgaria; and the Asian Wrestling Championships in Xi'an, China.
A gold medal at Yasar Dogu 2019 Ranking Series propelled Seema Bisla to number three in the world. The 26-year-old started in 2011 in the 67kg category – third-heaviest in women's wrestling. She now competes in the 50kg division, the lightest in the sport. At Nur-Sultan, she is the number two seed.
At the ripe age of 36, Sushil Kumar is India's only individual double Olympic medallist, and the country’s most popular wrestler. Though he is unseeded and was badly defeated on his return after a year’s break at the Medved tournament in Minsk, Belarus, no one can write Sushil off.
The third sister in the acclaimed ‘Dangal’ family, 24-year-old Vinesh is an Asian Games and Commonwealth Games gold medallist. This year she won gold medals at the Grand Prix of Spain; the Yasar Dogu International at Istanbul, Turkey; and the Poland Open wrestling tournament in Warsaw, but lost in the final of the Medved event in Minsk, Belarus.
Rahul Aware is the second seed in the non-Olympic 61kg category. The 27-year-old Asian bronze medallist won the gold medal in the 2018 Commonwealth Games at Gold Coast, Australia, in the 57kg class. He also won gold at the Yasar Dogu 2019 Ranking Series tournament in Istanbul.
India’s first woman wrestler to win an Olympic medal, 26-year-old Sakshi Malik is one of only eight Indian athletes signed by top shoe and apparel brand ASICS. Though she hasn’t been able to make a bigger mark since Rio 2016, Sakshi will be looking for a 2020 Tokyo Olympics qualification, if not a medal.
Deepak Punia is seeded fourth in the 86kg category. The 19-year-old won a gold medal at the Junior World Championships last month, India’s first in 18 years. He won the Cadet World Championship in 2016, but missed out on a bronze in the Junior Worlds in 2017. In 2018, he won a silver medal in Slovakia.