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Sushil, Yogeshwar spearhead India's campaign at Glasgow Games

July 28, 2014 16:00 IST

Sushil, Yogeshwar spearhead India's campaign at Glasgow Games

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Spearheaded by Olympic medallists Sushil Kumar and Yogeshwar Dutt, Indian wrestlers will once again look to dominate, but the scrapping of Greco-Roman category will certainly affect the country's medal count when the grapplers start their campaign at the Commonwealth Games, in Glasgow, on Tuesday.

- Medals tally: 2014 Commonwealth Games

During the 2010 edition of the Games in New Delhi, the Greco-Roman wrestlers grabbed seven (four gold, one silver and two bronze) out of 19 medals won by India.

Even this time, the freestyle contingent looks very strong and is expected to add at least 10 medals to India's overall tally.

The last two years have seen Indian wrestling scaling new heights with Sushil's second Olympic medal after Beijing, a historic silver at the London Olympics in 2012 and Yogeshwar's bronze at the same event.

The two will lead India's campaign in new weight categories, after world body FILA dropped their respective categories in December last year, while tweaking 19 other divisions.

- Complete coverage: Glasgow Commonwealth Games

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Image: Sushil Kumar of India celebrates after winning the gold medal at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi
Photographs: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

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Sushil, Yogeshwar spearhead India's campaign at Glasgow Games

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Sushil, who won bronze in 2008 Beijing Games and silver in London in the 66kg freestyle category, has moved up to 74kg, while Yogeshwar will be competing in 65kg, after moving up from 60kg as last time.

Although the two grapplers do not figure in the world rankings as they had been on a long sabbatical after the London Olympics, they are expected to bag gold in their respective categories.

Despite their absence from the international arena, both Sushil and Yogeshwar came up with impressive performances last month in the senior international wrestling tournament in Sassari, Italy, fighting in their new-weight divisions for the first time.

While Yogeshwar won a gold in the 65kg freestyle, Sushil finished with a silver in 74kg.

The other Indians in fray -- Amit Kumar (57kg), Bajrang Poonia (61kg), Pawan Kumar (86kg) and Satywart Kadian (97kg) -- are not affected by the change in the weight categories, and will also be looking to prove their mettle at the ongoing competition, having won many laurels at a number of international events.

In the Commonwealth Wrestling Championships in Johannesburg last year, the grapplers brought home a total of 14 medals, winning seven gold, four silver and three bronze, along with the team title.

Both Pawan and Satywart had bagged the gold medal during the tournament. Satywart earned a medal for the first time in the heavyweight category for India, and a lot is expected of him in the 97kg division.

- Complete coverage: Glasgow Commonwealth Games

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Image: Yogeshwar Dutt
Photographs: Paul Gilham/Getty Images

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India would bank also on youngster Pawan for a podium finish in Glasgow.

At the World Championships in Budapest last year, 20-year-old Amit had won a silver, while Bajrang bagged a bronze. He had also earned a bronze in the Asian championships last year.

Amit was the youngest wrestler to represent India at the Olympic Games in London and his experience will surely count when he enters the ring at the Commonwealth Games.

As far as women grapplers are concerned, they would also be keen to better their performance of the last edition, where they had clinched three gold, two silver and a bronze.

The experienced Babita Kumari will spearhead the Indian challenge in the women's section. She will be looking to defend her gold in 55kg freestyle category.

However, India will miss the services of Babita's sister Geeta, who had also won a gold in the previous edition.

Vinesh (48kg), Navjyot Kaur (69kg) and Jyoti (75kg) are other female contestants whose skills cannot be underestimated.

- Complete coverage: Glasgow Commonwealth Games

- Medals tally: 2014 Commonwealth Games

 


Image: India's Babita Kumari (red) in action during the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi
Photographs: Krishnendu Halder/Reuters

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