Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia: Having missed out on Olympic berths on two occasions, a 15-member Indian team will be determined to book as many quota places as possible when they take the mat at the 1st OG World Qualifying tournament in Ulaanbaatar starting on Friday.
This is the penultimate Olympic qualification competition -- a three-day event from April 22-24 -- where the top three finishers in each weight category will secure an Olympic berth for a country.
While the wrestlers finishing on the top two positions would automatically be assured of Olympic berths, there would be a fight-off between the two bronze medallists for booking a place at the Rio Games.
So far three Indian wrestlers -- two from men's freestyle division and one from Greco-Roman category -- have qualified for the quadrennial extravaganza, to be held in August.
This is the third qualifying event for the Rio Games. The first was held last year at the World Championship in Las Vegas, where just one Indian in Narsingh Yadav bagged a quota place for the country in men's 74kg freestyle.
While at the second event, Asian Olympic Qualification wrestling championship at Astana, which was held last month, London Games bronze medallist Yogeshwar Dutt (men's 65kg freestyle) and Hardeep (Greco-Roman 98kg) booked Olympic quota places in their respective weight categories.
The Indian squad for this tournament comprises four grapplers in men's freestyle, five in Greco-Roman and six in female wrestling.
With Yogeshwar and Narsingh having already qualified for the Games, the men's freestyle category will be spearheaded by experienced Satywart Kadian (97kg).
Sandeep Tomar (57kg), Somveer (86kg) and Sumit (125kg) will be the others fighting for top honours here.
No Indian woman wrestler has so far bagged a quota place but there are high hopes from the three Phogat sisters -- Vinesh (48kg), Babita Kumari (53kg) and veteran Geeta (58kg) -- all of whom stand good chance of assuring Olympic berths for the country this time around.
The likes of Anita (63kg), Navjot Kaur (67kg) and Jyoti (75kg) complete the women's team line-up.
Greco-Roman, which is not India's forte, saw Hardeep create history at the Asian Olympic Qualification tournament by becoming the first Indian Greco-Roman wrestler to secure an Olympic berth after 2004 Athens Games, when Mausam Khatri had made the cut.
The other Greco-Roman grapplers would certainly take inspiration from Hardeep and look to put their best foot forward over the next three days.
The last Olympic qualifier -- 2nd World Qualification tournament -- is scheduled to take place at Istanbul, Turkey from May 6-8.
All those wrestlers who fail to win an Olympic quota here would get one last chance to assure a Games berth at Istanbul next month.
Men's Freestyle: Sandeep Tomar (57kg), Somveer (86kg), Satywart Kadian (97kg), Sumit (125kg).
Men's Greco-Roman: Gaurav Sharma (59kg), Ravinder (66kg), Harpreet Singh (75kg), Ravinder Khatri (85kg), Naveen (130kg).
Female Wrestling: Vinesh Phogat (48kg), Babita Kumari (53kg), Geeta Phogat (58kg), Anita (63kg), Navjot Kaur (67kg), Jyoti (75kg).
Published Date: Apr 21, 2016 08:01 pm | Updated Date: Apr 21, 2016 08:01 pm