What is next for Indian wrestling after Tokyo Olympics?
The country won two medals in the discipline at the quadrennial event in 2020.
Wrestling has been one of India’s biggest strength at the Olympic Games in the last couple of editions. The country has won at least one medal in wrestling in every Olympic Games since Beijing 2008. Sushil Kumar set the wheels in motion when he bagged the bronze medal in Beijing.
This was followed by Sushil Kumar winning a silver in London 2012. Yogeshwar Dutt brought home a bronze medal that same year. In Rio 2016, Sakshi Malik scripted history by becoming the first Indian woman wrestler to win an Olympic medal (bronze).
At the Tokyo Olympics, the impressive trend continued. Ravi Kumar Dahiya bagged the silver medal, whereas his compatriot Bajrang Punia won a bronze medal. With Tokyo 2020 now in the past, it is time for Indian wrestlers to turn their focus towards several upcoming competitions approaching them. Let’s take a look at the upcoming wrestling competitions where Indians will be participating.
Senior World Championships 2021
After a well-deserved break, the Indian wrestling will be back in action in October. The 17th edition of the World Wrestling Championships will take place in Oslo, Norway between October 2-10. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 edition did not take place.
At the previous edition in 2019, the likes of Ravi Kumar Dahiya, Bajrang Punia and Vinesh Phogat had all claimed bronze medals. They will be aiming for a better campaign this time. The best Indian performer in the previous edition was Deepak Punia, who had clinched a silver medal and later, came very close to clinch a Olympic medal in Tokyo 2020. After an impressive Olympics showing, the Indian wrestlers will be eager to showcase their abilities and replicate their performance from Tokyo 2020.
U23 World Championships 2021
The World Wrestling U-23 Championships will take place between November 1-7 in Belgrade, Serbia. This will be the fourth edition of the competition, with the previous one taking place in 2019.
In the 2019 edition, which was organized in Budapest, Hungary — the Indian wrestlers won two silver medals, courtesy of Ravi Dahiya and Pooja Gehlot. India has a total of six silver medals in the competition, and the quest for a first-ever gold medal will resume later in 2021.
Commonwealth Wrestling Championships 2021
The Commonwealth Wrestling Championship is a tournament designed for top wrestlers in the Commonwealth of Nations. It is not linked to the Commonwealth Games, nor has any accreditation with any sports body in any country.
India is one of the traditional superpowers in this competition. The 2021 edition will take place in Johannesburg, South Africa from December 3-5.
Ranking Series 2022
The wrestling ranking series is a series of competitions through which the wrestlers are able to improve their world rankings. Three ranking series tournaments are scheduled to take place between February and June 2022. The venues for the tournaments are yet to be determined.
In 2021, there were two ranking series competitions. They were the Matteo Pelicone Ranking Series in Rome and the Poland Open in Warsaw. At the event in Rome, the Indian wrestling contingent put up a spirited showing. Bajrang Punia and Vinesh Phogat pocketed gold medals, whereas Sarita Mor won a silver medal.
Five more bronze medals were picked up to take India’s total medal tally to eight. In Warsaw, Vinesh Phogat once again won gold while Ravi Kumar Dahiya brought home a silver medal.
Senior Asian Wrestling Championships 2022
The 2021 edition of the continental wrestling competition acted as a warmup tournament for the Tokyo Olympics. Held in April in Almaty, Kazakhstan — the Indian wrestling contingent claimed an impressive total of 14 medals (five gold, three silver and six bronze).
Ravi Kumar Dahiya was the only male wrestler to win gold. On the other hand, Vinesh Phogat, Anshu Malik, Sarita Mor and Divya Kakran all won gold in the women’s category. The likes of Bajrang Punia, Deepak Punia and Sakshi Malik were able to win silver medals. The competition in 2022 will take place from 19th to 24th April.
Cadet World Wrestling Championship 2022
The Cadet World Wrestling Championship is often the stepping stone for greater things for budding wrestlers. Wrestlers in the age group of 15-17 are eligible to participate. At the 2021 edition in Budapest, the Indian wrestling contingent had a fantastic outing as they clinched 13 medals including five gold.
The 2022 edition will take place from between July 25-31 in Rome, Italy.
Commonwealth Games 2022
The Commonwealth Games 2022 will take place in Birmingham, England between July 28 – August 8. The previous edition in 2018 at Gold Coast was a memorable one for Indian wrestling. India finished on top of the medal table, with five gold, three silver and four bronze (total 12 medals).
Sushil Kumar, Bajrang Punia, Vinesh Phogat, Sumit Malik and Rahul Aware had all won gold medals for the nation. However, all of them will most probably not be there to defend their titles this time at the Alexander Stadium. Despite this, a similar campaign is expected from the Indian wrestlers.
Junior World Wrestling Championships 2022
The Indian participants came back with a rich haul of medals from the Junior World Wrestling Championships in August 2021. Ravinder was the only male wrestler to win a silver medal. On the other hand, Sanju Devi, Bhateri and Bipasha all claimed silver medals in the girls’ section.
Added to that, the Indian wrestlers clinched seven bronze medals across various weight categories. Wrestlers within the age group of 18-20 are eligible to participate. The next generation of Indian wrestlers will travel to Sofia, Bulgaria for the 2022 edition.
Senior World Championships 2022
The annual Senior World Wrestling Championships will return in the second part of 2022. This time, the Serbian capital of Belgrade will get the opportunity to host the world’s finest wrestlers. Men’s freestyle and Greco-Roman, as well as women’s wrestling are scheduled to take place at the competition.
Asian Games 2022
The 19th edition of the Asian Games will take place in Hangzhou, China between September 10-25. Hangzhou will also become the third Chinese city to host the prestigious continental meet after Beijing (1990) and Guangzhou (2010).
The Asian Games will include athletes from Oceania for the first-time ever. Ace Indian wrestlers Bajrang Punia and Vinesh Phogat will be the defending champions in their respective events.