‘We completely wasted 15-20 days in France before the start of the tournament’
‘There were no training facilities provided by the organisers’
‘They had to practice with one another, which wasn't sufficient and that reflected on our results’
The Wrestling Federation of India president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh blamed the organisers for the country's dismal show at the World Championships, saying the lack of facilities in Paris resulted in wrestlers losing out on 15 days of training ahead of the mega-event.
The Indian contingent, which returned empty-handed, was ‘forced’ to train at a local club in Boulevard de Bercy borough, situated at the border of France and Germany since August 6, with hardly any facilities or even foreign wrestlers to practice with.
"We completely wasted 15-20 days in France before the start of the tournament. There were no training facilities provided by the organisers. Our wrestlers did not get partners to practice with," Singh said.
The Indian grapplers not just failed to make it to the podium but lost in the initials rounds of their respective weight categories. None of the wrestlers could win two consecutive bouts in the main round.
Even those who were fortunate to get a repechage, owing to their opponents' performances, also could not take advantage of it. No Indian reached the bronze-medal play-offs during the tournament.
"None of the other countries' wrestlers turned up and even the organisers did not provide us with any facility. We had to arrange for everything ourselves. We has set up our training camp at a local club, where our wrestlers did not get enough partners to train with.
"They had to practice with one another, which wasn't sufficient and that reflected on our results," rued Singh.
Before any big championship, most of the countries gather at the venue about two weeks in advance and train with one another.
Undoubtedly, there was a lack of coordination between the organisers of the World Championships and the WFI, but the president defended its decision to send the players early, saying it was the duty of the federation to provide wrestlers enough time to get acclimatised to the conditions there.
"We need to ensure that our wrestlers get enough training as well as get acclimatised to the conditions. So we always send our team to any venue much ahead of time. Generally, 5-6 countries wrestlers are always there as well but this time there were the none and even the organisers refused to provide anything," said Singh.
On whether the three coaches -- Jagminder Singh (men's freestyle), Kuldeep Malik (women's wrestling) and Kuldeep Singh (Greco-Roman) -- would be sacked after such a performance, Singh made it clear that till the time WFI manages to find a good coach, they would all be retained.
"We have been talking to a lot of foreign coaches but nothing has worked out yet. We have approached the federation of Iran and they said they would take up the thing after the World Championships, while Japanese people do not want to send their coaches.
"So far, whatever applications we have got, they are not up to the mark. We are looking to appoint the best in the business. Till that time, the same coaches can continue. They haven't done much wrong in any case."
Singh also defended the performance of Rio Olympic bronze medallist Sakshi Malik, who lost in the pre-quarterfinals to bow out of the event.
"There was a lot of pressure on Sakshi being last year's Olympic medallist. Considering the burden of expectations she was carrying on her shoulders, she did pretty well."
Summing up the performance of the Indians at the World Championships, the president said it was a ‘good learning experience’.
"Our wrestlers applied a lot of power during the bouts, which was good, but their technique was not up to the mark. Wrestlers like Asian champion Bajrang Punia faltered as far as the technique is concerned though he was good with power. Al in all, it was a good learning experience and it will help them in future," said Singh.
Image: Indian wrestler Sandeep Tomar
Photograph: World Wrestling/Twitter