The Asian Wrestling Championships is slated to be held at New Delhi February 18-23 and wrestlers from various participating nations will start arriving from February 16.
With the continental event less than week away, Indian grapplers are all geared up to take the mat with one eye on gold. Possibilities of revenge match-ups and rise of new superstars are high.
Bajrang Punia and Vinesh Phogat are the two favourites to get gold at the championships. While Punia will compete in his 65kg freestyle category, Phogat will take the mat in 53kg.
India would be a force to reckon with at the upcoming event and here are the top 5 Indian wrestlers to win gold at the Asian Wrestling Championships.
Hailing from a family of wrestlers, Vinesh is the epitome of women power. She is the first Indian women wrestler to win gold in both Commonwealth Games (2014 and 2018) and Asian Games 2018.
In the 2019 Asian Wrestling Championships held in China, the 53kg wrestler had secured bronze losing to Qianyu Pang of China.
She has qualified for the Tokyo Olympics 2020 and a gold at the championships would be a great boost to her confidence ahead of the Games.
Dubbed as the poster boy for India’s wrestling team at the Championships, Punia will be entering the arena riding high on confidence. The Haryana wrestler is currently at his best form of the career, having won at least one medal since 2018.
He won gold at the 2018 Asian Games and Commonwealth Games, followed by a silver at the world wrestling championships. In 2019, he grabbed a bronze at the world championships and a gold at the Rome Rankings Series 2020.
One of the biggest competitors of his category will be Kazakhstan’s
Deulet Niyazbekov. The most formidable in the Kazakhstan contingent is a major nemesis of Bajrang, after he had controversially knocked out the Indian in the World Championship semi-finals in Nur-Sultan last year.
A rematch match can be expected and Punia would like to have a taste of revenge against the Kazakhstan grappler.
Malik is a new hope on the block for India at the upcoming championships. She earned the 57kg berth in the Indian national women’s team with a surprising win over veteran Pooja Dhanda.
Playing her first seniors, Malik is confident of getting a medal at the meet. The confidence comes from her recent showing in India colours. he has won the silver at the world ranking series, going down 10-0 to the strong Nigerian opponent Odunayo Adekuoroye in the final.
Anshu has also won the Juniors Asian Wrestling Championships in 2018 and 2019. Apart from this, she has also bagged gold at the 2017 cadet world championships.
The only wrestler to feature in this year’s Forbes India ’30 under 30’, Deepak will take the mat in the 86kg Freestyle category. The silver medallist at the 2019 world championship, he would try to turn it into gold at the Asian Championships.
He will be facing tough competition from Iran and Kazakhstan and would like to overcome the hurdles to keep his confidence afloat. He has qualified for the Tokyo 2020 along with three other Indian wrestlers.
The Haryana boy has crowned the Juniors World Champion in 2018. He has also won bronze at the XI’an held 2019 Asian Championships.
World medallist Ravi Kumar Dahiya will take the mat in the 57kg category. He will be fighting in a category down from his usual one. The Haryana boy who won gold at the Rome Rankings series feels that Iran’s Reza Ahmedali Atrinagharchi will be a strong opponent he will look out at the championships. He is currently ranked fourth in world rankings.