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Nationals set to attract attention

Y.B. Sarangi
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RARING TO GO:Babita Kumari and Geeta Phogat pose on the eve of the National wrestling championships to be held at Nandini Nagar, Gonda, from Friday.— Photo: R.V. Moorthy
RARING TO GO:Babita Kumari and Geeta Phogat pose on the eve of the National wrestling championships to be held at Nandini Nagar, Gonda, from Friday.— Photo: R.V. Moorthy

Two medals from the Olympics and two from the women's World championship have made 2012 a special year for Indian wrestling.

Following the unprecedented success at the highest level and with the Indian Wrestling League (IWL) in the pipeline, the National wrestling championship, starting at Nandini Nagar College campus here from Friday, is bound to get some attention.

Pictures of Sushil Kumar winning a dramatic bout to ensure a silver medal and Yogeshwar Dutt claiming a bronze in the London Olympics are still vivid in the minds of ardent followers of the sport. The hero worship of these wrestlers post-London Games gave a new dimension to the general outlook towards this Olympic discipline.

Further boost

Geeta Phogat, the first woman wrestler from the country to qualify for the Olympics in London, and her sister Babita Kumari cornering two bronze medals in the World championship in Canada provided further boost to the profile of the sport.

Even though these top performers, except Babita, are unlikely to participate in the National championship, they will be present here to encourage the wrestling lovers of this rural belt.

Babita, who took some time off to nurse her knee and elbow injuries, said she wanted to get back into the groove and the National championship was a good platform for this. “It is a good chance to assess my fitness before preparing for bigger events,” said Babita, who would participate in 55kg.

In the women's freestyle section, World junior bronze medal winner Indu Choudhary, Nirmala Devi, Priyanka and Ritu in 48kg, Kamlesh in 55kg, Geetika Jakhar, Rajni and Sakshi Malik in 63kg and Anita and Navjot in 67kg will be a few well known wrestlers to be seen in action.

Front runners

Vinod Kumar and Sandeep Tomar in 55kg, 2011 Commonwealth championship winner Rajneesh Dalal and World cadet silver medallist Bajrang in 60kg and Pradeep Kumar and Kuldeep Tomar in 66kg are front runners for titles in men's freestyle events.

Commonwealth Games gold medallist Ravinder and Anil Kumar in 60 kg and 2011 Asian championship silver medallist Anil Kumar in 66kg will be some top names in fray in Greco Roman competitions.

Even though the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) was yet to receive the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) order about the suspension of six international wrestlers, WFI Brijbhushan Sharan Singh said the body would abide by the law.

The organisers have made elaborate arrangements to cater to the large crowd which is expected to throng the venue over the next three days.

Besides the main championship, some India-Pakistan exhibition bouts will be held to entertain the spectators.

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