Spearheaded by Olympic medallists Sushil Kumar and Yogeshwar Dutt, Indian wrestlers will once again look to dominate, but the scrapping of Greco-Roman category will certainly affect the country’s medal count when the grapplers start their campaign at the Commonwealth Games, on Tuesday.
During the 2010 edition of the Games at New Delhi, the Greco-Roman wrestlers grabbed seven (four gold, one silver and two bronze) out of 19 medals won by India.
Even this time, the freestyle contingent looks very strong and is expected to add at least 10 medals to India’s overall tally.
The last two years have seen Indian wrestling scaling new heights with Sushil’s second Olympic medal after Beijing, a historic silver at the London Olympics in 2012 and Yogeshwar’s bronze at the same event.
The two will lead India’s campaign in new weight categories, after world body FILA dropped their respective categories in December last year, while tweaking 19 other divisions.
Sushil, who won bronze in 2008 Beijing Games and silver in London in the 66kg freestyle category, has moved up to 74kg, while Yogeshwar will be competing in 65kg, and not 60kg as last time.
Although the two grapplers do not figure in the world rankings as they had been on a long sabbatical after the London Olympics, they are expected to bag gold in their respective categories.
Despite their absence from the international arena, both Sushil and Yogeshwar came up with impressive performances last month in the senior international wrestling tournament in Sassari, Italy, fighting in their new-weight divisions for the first time.
While Yogeshwar won a gold in the 65kg freestyle, Sushil finished with a silver in 74kg.
The other Indians in fray — Amit Kumar (57kg), Bajrang Poonia (61kg), Pawan Kumar (86kg) and Satywart Kadian (97kg) — are not affected by the change in the weight categories, and will also be looking to prove their mettle at the ongoing competition, having won many laurels at a number of international events.
In the Commonwealth Wrestling Championships in Johannesburg last year, the grapplers brought home a total of 14 medals, winning seven gold, four silver and three bronze, along with the team title.
Both Pawan and Satywart had bagged the yellow metals during the tournament. Satywart earned a medal for the first time in the heavyweight category for India, and a lot is expected of him in the 97kg division.