World Wrestling Championships 2019: From upbeat participants to sombre mood; contrasting camps of India women's and men's wrestlers

  • Sakshi Malik said arriving early at championships has helped team to settle down easily.

  • The men's freetsyle team camp is still without the big names like Sushil Kumar and Bajrang Punia.

  • Junior World Champion in 86kg, Deepak Punia was seen practicing with Mausam Khatri.

Nur-Sultan: Navjot Kaur is running at such a blistering speed that she does not need to dodge the defenders as she easily nets the ball while Vinesh Phogat and Sakshi Malik are debating a rough push.

Pooja Dhanda jumps and smashes the ball into the net while Divya Kakran has gripped the ball so tight that others are jostling to get it from her.

 World Wrestling Championships 2019: From upbeat participants to sombre mood; contrasting camps of India womens and mens wrestlers

File image of India restler Vinesh Phogat. AFP

Well, these are scenes from Indian women's wrestling team's light fun-practice session a game of hand-ball.

The giggles and guffaws are all around but the two-set match was taken seriously as coach Kuldeep Malik keeps a tab of the score.

With the women competition at the World Championship set to begin, Malik looks a bit nervous, though he is trying to keep his girls in good shape and good mental place.

The team has been together in Nur-Sultan since August 28 and it has helped in building a 'bond'.

"It is important to relax. It's an individual game but having team unity is not a bad thing to have," said Andrew Cook, team's foreign coach.

The American coach then got busy clicking selfies with the girls.

The team also celebrated Sarita Mor's birthday on September 5 but without a cake ceremony since everyone has some weight adjustments to make.

Pooja Dhanda is trying to speak Punjabi with Navjot and explains that she had Sikh neighbours and she picked up a few Punjabi words there.

The Indian women team appears to be a happy bunch.

Malik says arriving early has its own advantage.

"The girls have got used to weather and conditions. We had a good training camp. The girls are raring to go. Just Seema Bisla is missing since she had some job-related issues back home," said Malik.

In complete contrast, the men's freestyle team, which is training at Nazarbayev University, seems to be in a sombre mood.

Team's foreign coach Hossein Karimi is still waiting for his best wrestlers - Bajrang Punia (65kg), Sushil Kumar (74kg) and Jitender (79kg) - to join the camp.

He wants to put in place a training program for everyone but has no control.

While Karimi's frustration is understandable, it makes sense that at least Bajrang continues with his own training program with Shako Benitidis, since it has given him results.

The 25-year-old, India's biggest medal hope at the Tokyo Olympics, probably would not have got quality partners in Nur-Sultan compared to Russia where he is training.

Junior World Champion in 86kg, Deepak Punia and Mausam Khatri are pushing each other, while Ravi Dahiya is working on his fitness.

There are hardly any smiles in this camp.

"There is not much difference between me and my rivals. It's 19-20," said Deepak, who will make his senior Worlds debut.

"I am not just looking at Olympic qualification, I am targeting a medal and it's possible," he added.

For Ravi also, it will be a debut at Worlds but he is not nervous.

"I am reaching the peak of my fitness. This is the fittest I have been in last six months. I am not nervous at all, instead I am excited," he said.

"I have competed with almost all of them at some level, so I know what I need to do to win a medal," added Ravi.

In another extreme, India's Greco Roman camp is happy just participating.

They themselves acknowledge that they do not stand much chance.

"India's standard in Greco Roman style is not up to the mark," sums up national coach Hargobind Singh.

Foreign coach Temo Kazarashvili says India need to produce better wrestlers to get better results in this style and for that to happen Greco Roman needs to be taken to schools.

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Updated Date: Sep 14, 2019 17:08:42 IST