WFI defers resumption of camps indefinitely as corona fear grips Indian wrestlers

By   - 21/05/2020

In the wake of the corona fear among Indian wrestlers, the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) has decided to postpone the national camp indefinitely. The governing body had decided to resume the training camp with a reduced number after getting a nod from the Sports Authority of India (SAI) on Wednesday. But after the country’s top wrestlers reached out to express their concerns related to the risk of spreading of the virus it decided to defer the training camp.

Since wrestling is a contact sport, they fear that the training environment is not favourable enough to start training for the Olympics. There will always be chances of getting infected by COVID-19 and therefore restarting the camp is not very fruitful if they cannot indulge in sparring during training sessions.

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“It is not possible to organize camps in Sonepat for men and Lucknow for women under the current scenario. Wrestlers are concerned about their well-being since wrestling is a contact sport. And we understand it and therefore have decided to not resume the camp,” a WFI official told Times of India.

Most of the wrestlers like Sakshi Malik, Sunil Kumar, Vinesh Phogat and Deepak Punia are training at akhadas in their hometowns. As for Bajrang Punia and Jitender, they live in an apartment in Sonepat and have turned their basement into a make-shift training arena. Punia arranged wrestling mats from his village and the duo has now started doing mat training.

Absence of foreign coaches and lack of clarity for inter-state travel are amongst other reasons for cancelling the camp indefinitely. “There is no point in doing training without our chief coaches. Also, the lack of clarity about inter-state travel by state government is also a problem,” the official added, reported TOI.

For now, as things stand, India is yet to compete for 14 weight categories after confirming four at 2019 World Championships. While Ravi Dahiya, Bajrang Punia, and Deepak Punia confirmed quota in 57kg, 65kg, and 86kg men’s freestyle respectively, Vinesh Phogat booked a berth in 53kg women’s division.

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