NEW DELHI: After a stunning show in Commonwealth Games, Indian wrestlers failed to continue the momentum at the World Championships, bagging just two bronze medals despite fielding a strong 30-member delegation in the major event.
For the records, last year, India had two medals and one of them was a silver. The expectations were high following a sensational performance by the wrestlers at the 2022 CWG, but the level of competition was much higher at the Worlds and the Indian grapplers were seen struggling in the ring.
Bajrang Punia and Vinesh Phogat managed to save India's blushes with bronze medals (through repechage), but the rest fell like ninepins.
A Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) official, while speaking to IANS, tried to justify the results in a diplomatic manner, saying "let's not demotivate our grapplers," but then admitted "performance was not up to the mark".
The official further added that the federation understands the level of competition there is at the Worlds. "We won two bronze medals which is also good in many ways. Actually, the expectations have gone high after our grapplers performed well in recent years.
"But it's fine, we are not going to demotivate them or scold them for World Championships performance. We will keep supporting them because they are the one who go in the ring and face the opponents, we respect it. There were some disheartening results like Ravi Dahiya's loss was a shocker," the official said.
There are also reports that some coaches have pointed fingers on the scheduling of the selection trials as the grapplers got less time to prepare for the major event.
To this, the official clarified, "We hold national camps the entire year. What preparations are they talking about? Trials are important so that our best can represent India, also we believe in transparency. We give exemption in a few weight categories but that too after a thorough discussion with coaches and other officials seeing the level of competition in their respective weight categories," he added.
India had sent a delegation to compete in Greco-Roman, men's and women's freestyle wrestling at the championships. Ten wrestlers from India competed in each of the three divisions. Many wrestlers bowed out in the initial stage, creating a cause of concern for the WFI and also wrestling fans in India. IANS