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Indian wrestlers all set for World Wrestling Championships '19

ANI | Updated: Sep 05, 2019 21:31 IST

New Delhi [India], Sept 5 (ANI): Indian wrestlers are all set for the upcoming World Wrestling Championships which are slated to be held from September 14 to 22 in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan.
Padma Shri awardee Bajrang Punia has got the number one seeding in men's 65kg freestyle category for the upcoming tournament.
India's biggest hope for the wrestling competitions in the Tokyo 2020 Games, Punia will be determined to change last year's silver into gold this time to confirm a berth for next year's Olympics.
Punia had progressed from a 60kg bronze in 2013 to a 65kg silver five years later at the same tournament last year. The elite wrestler is determined to end the long wait as he aims to become the second Indian after Sushil Kumar's senior-level freestyle wrestling gold in 2010.
In the last year, the 25-year-old has not just been crowned Asia's champion but has even climbed to the pinnacle of the world rankings in the 65kg category. His multiple training and exposure trips have added to his intelligence on the mat and enhanced his ability to gauge the opponents more swiftly.
"Training abroad with foreign athletes has helped me grow as a wrestler. Sparring with some of the best names in Georgia, Russia, and the USA has made me more aware of my opponents. Besides having my own team of coach, physio, trainer, and sports science support staff has benefited me a lot and instilled a lot of confidence into me ahead of the World Championships which is also an Olympic qualifier this time," Punia said.
He has been in Russia in order to fine-tune certain aspects of his game, especially his leg defence, ahead of the World Championships.
With the battle for Tokyo 2020 Olympic qualifications starting with this event, United World Wrestling (UWW) is leaving no stone unturned to provide the best of preparation and technical assistance to potential qualifiers.
In the largest-ever training camp that started on September 4 at the Olympic Cycling Centre in Kazakhstan's Saryarka, wrestlers will get an opportunity to get acclimatised to the conditions before facing the world's best in Nur-Sultan.
"It's a very good initiative taken by UWW ahead of such a big event. All wrestlers will be eyeing Olympic berths at the World Championships this time and an acclimation camp can help them to be ready for the challenge," said Punia.
While most of the Indian squad has left for the training camp, Asian Games gold medallist Vinesh Phogat has stayed back to train rigorously as she sets her sights on her maiden World Championships medal.
Currently ranked number six in the world, Vinesh's switch to 53kg has worked out well as she has scooped up gold medals in three consecutive tournaments in the last couple of months.
In 50kg, Seema is another medal hope to watch out for. A gold medal at Yasar Dogu 2019 Ranking Series has propelled her to number three in the world, landing her the number two seed.
In men's freestyle, the return of Sushil Kumar (74kg) after eight years makes him a top medal prospect. Rahul Aware has grabbed the second seed in 61kg while Deepak Punia has been seeded fourth in 86kg, further raising India's hopes of their best-ever show.
"My training has gone really well and I am excited to make my World Championships debut. Winning gold at the World Junior Championships last month has boosted my confidence level and I am eager to give my all," said Deepak who ended India's 18-year-old medal drought at the Junior World Championships last month.
The 2019 Wrestling World Championships will begin with the Greco-Roman competition. Around 1,000 wrestlers from 101 nations will be vying for medals across Greco-Roman, freestyle and women's wrestling categories for nine days.
Indian squad for the World Wrestling Championships:
Freestyle wrestling
57 Kg - Ravi Kumar, 61 Kg - Rahul Aware, 65 Kg - Bajrang Punia, 70 Kg - Karan, 74 Kg - Sushil Kumar, 79 Kg - Jitender, 86 Kg - Deepak Punia, 92 Kg - Parveen, 97 Kg - Mausam Khatri, 125 kg - Sumit.
Women's Wrestling
50 Kg - Seema, 53 Kg - Vinesh, 55 Kg - Lalita, 57 Kg - Sarita, 59 Kg - Pooja Dhanda, 62 Kg - Sakshi Malik, 65 Kg - Navjot Kaur, 68 Kg - Divya Kakran, 72 Kg - Komal Bhagwan Gole, 76 kg - Kiran.
Greco-Roman wrestling
55 Kg - Manjeet, 60 Kg - Manish, 63 Kg - Sagar, 67 Kg - Manish, 72 Kg - Yogesh, 77 Kg - Gurpreet Singh, 82 Kg - Harpreet Singh, 87 Kg - Sunil Kumar, 97 Kg - Ravi, 130 kg - Naveen. (ANI)