New Delhi: Two freestyle weight categories (6okg and 66 kg) in which India won three Olympic medals in the last two Games have been scrapped by the world body FILA from the 2016 Rio Games and the men affected are Sushil Kumar and his childhood buddy Yogeshwar Dutt.
The decision to drop the two categories was taken by FILA Tuesday in Geneva while tweaking the 18 weight divisions and this reworking has hit the Indian wrestlers hard.
Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) secretary general Raj Singh told IANS Wednesday that the FILA decision will be a body blow to Indian wrestling.
"The decision will affect Indian wrestling. We had high hopes from both the categories because we have won three medals in the last two Olympics. But it will also affect other countries as well," Singh told IANS.
Sushil and Yogeshwar though still have three years to move into the new weight categories and their coaches have different viewpoints on the weights they should move into.
Double Olympic medallist Sushil -- bronze in 2008 Beijing Games and silver in 2012 London Games -- fought in the 66kg freestyle category, while Yogeshwar won the 60kg bronze in London.
The immediate reaction to the changes was mixed, particularly from the two coaches of the two Olympians.
While Sushil`s coach and father-in-law Satpal feels that he should go into the 65 kg category as it is the nearest to the division he has been fighting in. Another long time coach Yashvir Singh wants him to go into the 74 kg weight category by putting on eight kilos to improve his chances.
Both Satpal and Yashbir concede that the tweaking will have some adverse affect on the chances of the two winning medals in Rio.
"I think the world body has something against India. We were doing really well in the 60kg and the 66kg categories and now they have suddenly removed the two categories from the next Olympics. It will surely affect our medal prospects. We were targeting 5-6 medals in Rio and now we have to re-draw our plans," Satpal, a 1982 Asian Games gold medallist, told IANS.
Yashvir, also a former national coach, concurred with Satpal saying the decision will disrupt the preparations.
"We already had plans in place for the 2016 Rio Games. Now we have to start afresh and decide where we can accommodate Sushil and Yogeshwar. We were aiming for gold medals in both the categories but now all our plans have gone haywire," Yashvir told IANS.
FILA in their bid to include two weight categories in the women`s section for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics has re-worked weight categories in the men`s freestyle and Greco Roman.
The light classes in men`s freestyle will be 57 and 65 kilograms instead of 55kg, 60kg and 66kg while in Greco-Roman, the two light classes will be 59kg and 66kg rather than 55kg, 60kg and 66kg as in the London Olympics.
Wrestling was dropped from the list of Olympic core sports in February but was reinstated in September after changes intended to modernise wrestling.