For the first time in India's history, three women wrestlers will compete at the Olympic Games after Vinesh Phogat (48kg freestyle), her cousin Babita Kumari (53kg freestyle) and Sakshi Malik (58kg freestyle) successfully qualified for 2016 Olympics at Rio de Janeiro in Brazil.
However, their qualification has been met with little recognition, if not reward. In a quite shocking decision, the Sports Authority of India (SAI) are set to send only a single male physiotherapist with the entire wrestling contingent, which includes five male and three female wrestlers, according to a report in The Times of India
During their training camp in Sonipat, the wrestlers had three physios to look after them, including a female physio named Rucha Kashalkar. While Rucha extensively looked after the women's team, the two other physios — Brajesh Kumar and Dhirendra Pratap — catered to the needs of the male wrestlers.
Vinesh, who won a gold medal at the World Qualifying Championship in Istanbul to qualify for the 2016 Olympics, revealed she would have been more comfortable with a female physiotherapist accompanying the team to Rio. "We girls would be more comfortable having a female physiotherapist with us in Rio. In a big event like the Olympics, it's important that the women wrestlers have a dedicated physio for them," Vinesh told The Times of India.
The Wrestling Federation of India have sent a formal letter to the SAI and Union sports ministry to accommodate a female physiotherapist among the Rio-bound Indian wrestling team, but the Federation is still awaiting a decision from the SAI or the ministry.
In the same qualifying tournament where Vinesh won the gold to qualify, Sakshi Malik had won a silver medal in the 58kg category to book her berth for the Rio Games. On the other hand, Babita qualified for the 2016 Rio Olympics after Mongolian wrestler Sumiya Erdenechimeg failed a dope test in the recent Asian qualifiers.
India will be hoping to better it's tally of two wrestling medals from the 2012 London Olympics, when the Games being in Rio next month.
Updated Date: Jul 14, 2016 15:17:30 IST