While expressing confidence that wrestling would stay in the Olympic programme, double Olympic medallist Sushil Kumar said on Friday that if the sport got axed from the mega event then it would hamper the progress of Indian grapplers.
Sushil led some prominent wrestlers – such as former Commonwealth Games champion Jagroop Rathi, his daughter and Asian championship medallist Neha Rathi, international wrestler-turned-coach Kripa Shankar and former National title winning siblings Jagdish and Sonika Kaliraman – to back wrestling before the crucial International Olympic Council (IOC) vote which would determine whether the ancient sport would remain in the 2020 Games.
Sushil was hopeful that wrestling, competing with squash and baseball-softball, would be the winner in the IOC voting to be held in Buenos Aires on Sunday.
“I am sure the result will be in our favour. I guess wrestling will stay in the Olympics. In case it goes out of the Games, then it will adversely affect our country which is emerging as a strong nation,” said Sushil, who has recovered from his shoulder injury and is hopeful of participating in the forthcoming World championship in Budapest later this month.
“The craze for wrestling is very much there. In the (London) Olympics, it was difficult for many people to get tickets for wrestling,” he said.
Neha also sounded positive. “We believe that the vote will go in favour of wrestling.”
Jagroop also agreed with his daughter. “Wrestling is a traditional sport in many countries. How can anyone keep it out (of the Olympics)!”
Sonika said it would be impossible to keep wrestling out. “No other sport is like wrestling. There are so many wrestlers around the world. It has to remain in the Olympics,” she said.
On the occasion, Jagroop and Neha were felicitated by Chandgi Ram akhara for becoming the first father-daughter duo to have won the prestigious Arjuna award in wrestling. Jagroop had got the award in 1974, while Neha received it this year.