After a successful 2019 that witnessed Bajrang Punia, Ravi Dahiya, Vinesh Phogat, and Deepak Punia shine at the World Championships, the attention now shifts to the Asian Wrestling Championships that begin in New Delhi on Tuesday (18 February).
The run-up to the event has been marred with visa controversies, and it was not until Sunday that the decks were finally cleared for the Pakistani contingent.
The four Pakistan wrestlers who will be competing are Muhammad Bilal (57kg), Abdul Rehman (74kg), Tayab Raza (97kg) and Zaman Anwar (125kg).
The Chinese delegation, however, has not been granted visa despite them being quarantined. India's move may attract sanctions from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and United World Wrestling (UWW), and the repercussions may range from banning the country from hosting any Olympic discipline competitions to prohibiting Indian wrestlers from participating in next month's Asian Olympics Qualifiers.
Nevertheless, with the likes of Iran and Japan in the fray, the event promises to test Indian heavyweights in the crucial Olympic year. Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh expects a five-gold haul from the Indian contingent. Given the performance of top Indian wrestlers in 2019 and season-opening Rome Ranking Series where the Indian grapplers won seven medals, the expectation is not entirely misplaced. The event will provide ranking points for the Tokyo Olympics.
Here's all you need to know about the event:
When and where will the competition be held?
The Asian Wrestling Championships will be held at the KD Jadhav Hall of Indira Gandhi Stadium in New Delhi from 18-23 February. The entry for spectators will be free, and the seating will be on a first-come, first-serve basis.
What weight categories will be in action?
The event will have a total of 30 weight classes in action: 10 each in Freestyle Men, Women, and Greco Roman. The weight categories are as follows:
Men: 57 kg (Olympic category), 61 kg, 65 kg (Olympic category), 70 kg, 74 kg (Olympic category), 79 kg, 86 kg (Olympic category), 92 kg, 97 kg (Olympic category), 125 kg (Olympic category)
Women: 50 kg (Olympic category), 53 kg (Olympic category), 55 kg, 57 kg (Olympic category), 59 kg, 62 kg (Olympic category), 65 kg, 68 kg (Olympic category), 72 kg, 76 kg (Olympic category)
Greco-Roman (men only): 53 kg, 60 kg (Olympic category), 63 kg, 67 kg (Olympic category), 72 kg, 77 kg (Olympic category), 82 kg, 87 kg (Olympic category), 97 kg (Olympic category), 130 kg (Olympic category)
What is the schedule of the Asian Wrestling Championships?
The event will begin with Greco-Roman events, followed by women wrestling and men's freestyle. The preliminary and qualification matches will be played in the morning sessions while the semis and finals will be conducted from 6 PM to 9 PM IST. Here's the complete schedule:
18 Feb, Tuesday – Finals (Greco-Roman – 55-63-77-87-130kg)
19 Feb, Wednesday – Finals (Greco-Roman – 60-67-72-82-97kg)
20 Feb, Thursday – Finals (Women – 50-55-59-68-76kg)
21 Feb, Friday – Finals (Women– 53-57-62-65-72kg)
22 Feb, Saturday – Finals (Freestyle – 57-65-70-79-97kg)
23 Feb, Sunday – Finals (Freestyle– 61-74-86-92-125kg)
Which Indian stars to watch out for?
Quite a few, actually. Bajrang Punia, Ravi Dahiya, Deepak Punia, and Vinesh Phogat have reserved their berths for this year's Tokyo Olympics by virtue of their World Championships medals in 2019. The medallists at Asian Wrestling Championships will book their tickets for next month's Asian Olympic Qualifiers.
Bajrang and Ravi started the year with gold medals at the Rome Ranking Series event, and would look to continue their fine form. Bajrang's much-documented and still-in-progress leg defence will be put to test as he gears up for Tokyo, while Deepak Punia, who crashed out of the opening round in Rome, will aim to make amends in front of the home crowd.
Among women, Vinesh Phogat starts as a runaway favourite, but focus will also be on young guns Anshu Malik and Sonam Malik. Anshu shot to limelight after beating the 2018 World Championships bronze-medallist Pooja Dhanda at the national trials in Lucknow in January; Sonam, a three-time Cadet World Championships medallist, booked a spot in Asian Championships after beating Rio Olympics bronze medallist Sakshi Malik in the trials.
Which wrestlers are part of the Indian contingent?
The full Indian team for Asian Wrestling Championships is as follows:
Greco-Roman: Arjun Durugappa Halakurki (55kg), Gyanender Dahiya (60 kg), Sachin Rana (63 kg), Ashu (67 kg), Aditya Kundu (72 kg), Sajan Bhanwal (77 kg), Harpreet Singh (82 kg), Sunil Kumar (87 kg), Hardeep Singh (97 kg), Meher Singh (130 kg)
Women: Nirmala Devi (50 kg), Vinesh Phogat (53 kg), Pinki (55 kg), Anshu Malik (57 kg), Sarita Mor (59 kg), Sonam Malik (62 kg), Sakshi Malik (65 kg), Divya Kakran (68 kg), Gursharan Preet Kaur (72 kg), Kiran Bishnoi (76 kg)
Men Freestyle: Ravi Kumar (57 kg), Rahul Aware (61 kg), Bajrang Punia (65 kg), Naveen (70 kg), Jitender (74 kg), Gourav Baliyan (79 kg), Deepak Punia (86 kg), Sombir (92 kg), Satywart Kadian (97 kg), Sumit Malik (125 kg)
When and where to watch the event?
The Asian Wrestling Championships will be broadcast live on Star Sports First from 6 PM to 9.15 PM IST every day from 18-23 February. Live streaming is available on UWW website and WrestlingTV. You can get all the news and updates from the event on Firstpost.com.
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Updated Date: Feb 17, 2020 17:34:52 IST