November 27, 2022

A wrestling icon’s disgraceful fall from grace, tears and cheers in Tokyo Olympics and emergence of latest expertise, 2021 was an eventful 12 months for Indian wrestling. (Extra Sports activities Information)

Double Olympic medallist Sushil Kumar hogged the limelight in 2021 for the mistaken causes. His try to safe a berth for Tokyo Olympics was effectively appreciated however Sushil Kumar tarnished his picture after he was reported for murdering a wrestler.

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Wrestling is synonymous with muscle energy. Whereas motion pictures like Dangal have been made on how ladies overcame social taboos to combat identical to the boys, the game continues to undergo from some controversy or the opposite.

If doping tarnished Indian wrestling’s picture earlier than Rio 2016, it was the homicide costs on Sushil Kumar that after once more consigned the manly sport to the realm of rowdyism.

Sushil Kumar’s sensational fall from grace was a physique blow to Indian wrestling. When he was making ready himself for one final hurrah on the Tokyo Video games, Sushil Kumar discovered himself lodged in Tihar Jail after being charge-sheeted within the homicide case of a fellow wrestler, Sagar Dhankar.

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The best way the 38-year outdated Sushil, the one Indian wrestler to have gained two Olympic medals and a world title, performed conceal and search with the police earlier than being arrested, uncovered the darkish underbelly of Indian wrestling ecosystem. Just lately, a senior official was seen slapping a younger wrestler in public.

However Tokyo 2020 introduced some cheer to India. If Sakshi Malik gained India a bronze in Rio 2016, the breathtaking rise of Ravi Dahiya on the Olympics and Bajrang Punia’s anticipated podium end restored the picture of Indian wrestling.

Vinesh Phogat misplaced to Vanesa Kaladzinskaya of Belarus within the Tokyo Olympics quarterfinal. AP picture.

Bajrang Punia and Vinesh Phogat have been thought of favourites to win medals at Tokyo by advantage of their worldwide performances main as much as the Summer season Video games. However the script didn’t unfold the best way India noticed it.

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Vinesh Phogat, a member of the well-known Phogat clan of Dangal fame, ended up heartbroken in Tokyo 2020. In Rio 2016, she was damage by a leg harm, in Tokyo, as Vinesh claimed, she was achieved in by a mixture of well being points – psychological and bodily within the 53-kg class.

In sport, particularly energy sports activities, the steadiness of thoughts helps athletes overcome bodily obstacles throughout huge match moments. Vinesh, despite her expertise, got here a cropper in Tokyo and was later hauled up by the Wrestling Federation of India for indiscipline. It was a tragic ending for Vinesh, who was nominated for the World Comeback of the Yr Award by the Laureus Sports activities Basis in 2019.

Bajrang Punia claimed a bronze medal in males’s freestyle 65 kg. AP picture.

The facility of the thoughts was greatest displayed by Bajrang Punia, who didn’t throw within the towel after aggravating a knee harm within the ultimate rounds at Tokyo 2020. After his 2019 world championship bronze, Bajrang Punia hardly misplaced a event and regardless of the robust competitors in his 65kg class, Bajrang was anticipated to succeed in not less than the ultimate in Tokyo 2020. He completed with a bronze.

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However the man who caught everybody unexpectedly was Ravi Kumar Dahiya. The hype round him was a lot much less. He liked to remain within the shadows of a Bajrang or a Vinesh however when the Video games started, Ravi Dahiya went from power to power.

Within the semifinal towards Kazakhstan’s Nurislam Sanayev, Ravi Kumar Dahiya displayed energy of his thoughts by getting back from the lifeless. Trailing 9-2 with lower than a minute to go, Ravi turned the bout on its head and pinned his rival down.

Ravi couldn’t repeat his success within the ultimate towards Russia’s Zavur Uguev that left him disillusioned man. In any case, he was solely the second Indian ever competing for an Olympic gold.

Regardless of the controversy surrounding Vinesh Phogat, ladies’s wrestling is getting stronger in India. Anshu Malik from Haryana is making waves within the junior circuit. The 20-year-old gained the senior Asian title and certified for the Tokyo Video games too however lack of expertise on the huge stage laid her low.

However Anshu Malik proved some extent when on the Oslo world championships, she entered the historical past books by changing into the primary Indian girl to make a ultimate. Anshu couldn’t beat two-time Olympic medallist Helen Maroulis of the USA within the ultimate however definitely cemented her place in India’s wrestling report books.

Not far behind was Sarita Mor. She gained a bronze on the Oslo world meet, exhibiting steely nerves and proving she had the potential to strike it huge in world class occasions.

Internationally, India have achieved very well on the junior and cadet ranges. Freestyle wrestling has been India’s greatest power whereas the Greco-Roman wrestlers have been disappointing. Wise planning, cool heads and honest choice trials will stay the most important of challenges as India put together for Paris 2024.

(With inputs from PTI)

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