Close to 1,000 wrestlers will be in Nursultan for the Wrestling World Championships which begin on September 14. The yearly tournament attains more significance this year as it serves as the Olympic qualifier as well.
At the Tokyo Olympics, a total of 18 weight categories will be included over three styles of wrestling.
In Nursultan, Indian wrestlers will also hope to get as many quotas as possible with six available in each Olympic weight categories. The top six wrestlers from the Olympic weight categories will earn a quota. The six will be the two finallists, the two wrestlers in the bronze medal bout number one and the two wrestlers in bronze medal bout number two. Wrestling, like few other sports, offers two bronze medals in competition.
Every wrestling style has 10 weight categories but for the Olympics, this is reduced to six. In men’s freestyle, the Olympic weight categories are 57 kg, 65 kg, 74 kg, 86 kg, 97 kg and 125 kg while the non-Olympic categories are 61 kg, 70 kg, 79 kg and 92 kg.
Similarly, in women’s wrestling, the Olympic weight categories are 50 kg, 53 kg, 57 kg, 62 kg, 68 kg and 76 kg. There are four non-Olympic weight categories – 55 kg, 59 kg, 65 kg and 72 kg.
The third style – Greco-Roman – also has six Olympic weight categories – 60 kg, 67 kg, 77 kg, 87 kg, 97 kg and 130 kg. The non-Olympic weight categories are 55 kg, 63 kg, 72 kg and 82 kg.
The Indian squad will be led by Bajrang Punia who is the world number one wrestler in the 65 kg category and one of the favourites to win a medal. He won a silver medal last year but has been in tremendous form in the build up to this year’s championships.
In the men’s freestyle, Sushil Kumar is making a comeback to World Championships after a gap of eight years and will be eyeing his second medal from the tournament.
A couple of young wrestlers in Ravi Kumar and Deepak Punia will also be eyeing medals at the debut World Championships but it won’t be easy for them as they are part of world class field in Olympic weights.
In the women’s team, Vinesh Phogat will be the biggest medal hope for India after missing the World Championships last year due to an injury. But she has racked up medals at every tournament she has participated this year and looks good to do so one more time in Nursultan. Rio Olympic bronze medallist Sakshi Malik is another medal contender in 62 kg category but she has not been in great form.
Seema Bisla, in 50 kg, is expected to spring a surprise and can win the quota. The same will be hoped from Sarita Mor in the 57 kg category.
India have had only one Greco-Roman wrestler who has won a medal at the World Championships, in 2013, so a medal in Nursultan will be a huge boost for India.
India's Wrestling Worlds contingent
|Weight class||Category||Wrestler||Olympic weight|
|57 kg||Freestyle||Ravi Kumar||Yes|
|61 kg||Freestyle||Rahul Aware||No|
|65 kg||Freestyle||Bajrang Punia||Yes|
|70 kg||Freestyle||Karan Mor||No|
|74 kg||Freestyle||Sushil Kumar||Yes|
|86 kg||Freestyle||Deepak Punia||Yes|
|97 kg||Freestyle||Mausam Khatri||Yes|
|125 kg||Freestyle||Sumit Malik||Yes|
|60 kg||Greco-Roman||Manish Kundu||Yes|
|72 kg||Greco-Roman||Yogesh Sangwan||No|
|77 kg||Greco-Roman||Gurpreet Singh||Yes|
|82 kg||Greco-Roman||Harpreet Singh||No|
|87 kg||Greco-Roman||Sunil Kumar||Yes|
|97 kg||Greco-Roman||Ravi Rathee||Yes|
|130 kg||Greco-Roman||Naveen Sevila||Yes|
|50 kg||Women's Wrestling||Seema Bisla||Yes|
|53 kg||Women's Wrestling||Vinesh Phogat||Yes|
|55 kg||Women's Wrestling||Lalita Seherawat||No|
|57 kg||Women's Wrestling||Sarita Mor||Yes|
|59 kg||Women's Wrestling||Pooja Dhanda||No|
|62 kg||Women's Wrestling||Sakshi Malik||Yes|
|65 kg||Women's Wrestling||Navjot Kaur||No|
|68 kg||Women's Wrestling||Divya Kakran||Yes|
|72 kg||Women's Wrestling||Komal Gole||No|
|76 kg||Women's Wrestling||Kiran Godara||Yes|