NurSultan, Kazakhstan: One by one, four Indian Greco-Roman grapplers exited the Wrestling World Championships on Satruday.
The most experienced of them all, Harpreet Singh, began the day on a dismal note, losing to Petr Novak of Czech Republic 0-7 in the qualifying round. If that was embarrassing, 63 kg wrestler Sagar suffered a 0-9 technical fall inside first two minutes to Almat Kebispayev of Kazakhstan making it 0-2 for Indian wrestlers on day one of the tournament.
It was a sad start but not unexpected from India. However, losing without a fight was something even the Indian camp did not expect.
Chief coach of the Indian Greco-Roman team Hargobind Singh was trying to wrap his head around losses at the end of the first session.
“Harpreet was expected to do good but unfortunately nothing worked,” he said. “It’s difficult to perform after you have not been able adjust to the climate and food of the host city.”
In the past one month, Harpreet has travelled to four countries for wrestling. The exposure camp in Armenia was followed by a visit to India before travelling to China for the World Police Games last month.
Singh won gold in China but immediately flew to Kazakhstan to join the national team for the World Championships in Nursultan. The travelling, alongwith the changing climate and lack of proper diet, had a severe affect on his health. He lost close to five kilograms.
“That is not an excuse. I am at a World Championships and I know it’s importance,” Harpreet said. “I do not lose knowingly. I am sorry that I could not perform.”
It was the same story in 55 kg for Manjeet. Opening against defending world champion Eldaniz Azizli of Azerbaijan, the Indian was shown the door inside the first period after losing 0-8.
Yet there was hope. Yogesh was leading his pre-quarterfinal bout against Raymond Bunker of USA 5-3 before giving up three points and losing the bout.
“We are still not at a level where we can compete against European countries,” Hargobind said. “We all know that we are not world class but improvement is one thing we can all hope for.”
Two of the four Indian wrestlers can be in repechage rounds if their opponents go on to make the finals. Manjeet and Sagar, if they reach the repechage, will hope to prove Hargobind Singh’s words true.
UPDATE: None of the four Indian wrestlers in action on day one made it to the repechage rounds, and will not be in contention for a bronze medal.
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