New Delhi: With home support and Beijing
Olympics bronze medallist Sushil Kumar in their ranks, India
will eye a rich medal haul of medals in the Asian Wrestling
Championship that begins at the Indira Gandhi Sports Complex
here on Wednesday.
Besides Sushil, the five-day event will see defending
champion Iranian Lashgari Ehsan (84kg) and Beijing Olympics
medallists Yusup Abdusalomov (84kg) of Tajikistan and
Kazakhstan`s Mutalimov Madrid in action.
India is fielding a maximum of 21 wrestlers in the three
Apart from Sushil (freestyle 66kg), last year`s bronze
medallist woman wrestler Alka Tomar (59kg), experienced Rajiv
Tomar (freestyle 120kg) and young Narsingh Pancham Yadav
(freestyle 74kg) are vying for top honours.
Around 350 wrestlers from 21 countries will participate
in the test event for the Commonwealth Games.
Apart from hosts India, all major wrestling nations of
the continent -- Iran, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan,
Japan, South Korea, North Korea, China and Mongolia -- will
participate in the annual championship, which is considered to
be one of the major fixtures in the International Wrestling
Federation (FILA) calendar.
In the last edition in Pattaya, Thailand, India won six
medals -? two silver and four bronze -- but this time around
the hosts would be expecting to better their performance. Iran
though would be the overwhelming favourites in the tournament.
India, however, would be without Ramesh Kumar (74kg) and
Anuj Kumar (84kg) -- only medal winners in freestyle in
For India, the event would offer a chance to test its
strength and weaknesses ahead of the Commonwealth Games and
The championship would provide India a chance to test the
facilities at the newly-constructed wrestling stadium ahead of
the Commonwealth Games. India is also mulling to bid next
year`s Olympic Qualifiers (freestyle) and Junior World
"All Asian nations are sending their top wrestlers. The
focus is on the Commonwealth Games, but Asian Games is also
important. Competition is more intense in the Asian Games,"
Indian Wrestling Federation president G S Mandher said.
The freestyle competitions will be held tomorrow and
Thursday, followed by women`s wrestling on Friday and Greco
Roman on Saturday and Sunday.
Rahul Mann (60kg), Narsingh Pancham Yadav (74kg) and
Mausam Khatri will be in action in the freestyle category
tomorrow. India`s best bet for a medal, Sushil will be in
action on Thursday.