The stage is set. The Wrestling Federation of India has announced that the first week of January will decide the composition of the Indian wrestling team for the Asian Olympic Qualifiers. But the perennial question on everyone’s lips is – will the double Olympic medal winner Sushil Kumar appear for the trials ?
Fight of Generations – Sushil Kumar vs Gaurav Baliyan
If yes – then get ready to witness the fight between the generations. Fight between the greatest of the Indian wrestling – Sushil Kumar & the teen sensation of the Indian wrestling – 18 year old Gaurav Baliyan. One will have loads of experience to back him and the other will bank on his youthful exuberance. One is the undisputed legend of the Indian wrestling with the world championship gold and two olympic medals under his belt – the other though just 18 recently won the senior national championship title and is currently considered as one of the most talented in the country.
This mouthwatering clash of generations between Sushil Kumar and Gaurav Baliyan can take place on January 3rd in New-Delhi. On stake will be the place in the Indian team in 74kg category for the Asian Championships in Delhi and more importantly the Asian Olympic Qualifiers in China in the month of March. This probably is the last chance for the aspirants to stake claims in the Indian team and subsequently the road to Tokyo 2020.
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But will Sushil Kumar vs Gaurav Baliyan actually take place ??
The challenger Gaurav Baliyan is ready. The 18-year-old from Shoron village in Uttar Pradesh’s Muzaffarnagar district has won the Under 23 and Senior Nationals gold this year defeating the likes of Praveen Rana in his way. He was even impressive in U23 World Championships in Budapest. In an interview to English daily, Baliyan admitted he is excited about this potential match-up.
“I have never met him. I could have competed against him (Sushil) in the selection trials held for the World Championships earlier this year, but I failed to reach the final. I respect him. But when I wrestle against him, I will try to give my best,” Gaurav, who is attending a national camp in Sonepat, told the English Daily.
But the big question is – Will Sushil take up this challenge ? Will he play the trials. Sushil who last played at the Senior World Championships in Nur-Sultan in September this year did not compete at the Nationals or any other domestic or international tournament. After his opening round loss at the world championships the Indian legend has kept his future plans under wraps. WrestlingTV reached out to Sushil to check whether he will compete in the trials or not – Sushil refused to comment on the same creating more suspense about this potential match-up.
“Sushil is a very good wrestler. He is more experienced. I have tremendous respect for Sushil. It is going to be a tough bout against him. I will give my hundred percent. Let us see what happens,” says Baliyan. “Sushil is an achiever. Playing against him in itself is a less. I am only going to gain from this bout.”
WFI’s clear directive
WrestlingTV also reached out to the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) for their reaction on Sushil’s availability for the trials. WFI made it completely clear that to compete in the trials is mandatory for everyone if they want to make it to the Indian team for the Olympic Qualifiers.
“The trials are mandatory for everyone if the wrestlers want to make it to the Indian team for the Olympic Qualifiers and the Asian Championships. It is up to the individual wrestler to compete or not, we cant force anyone. Sushil and everyone else has to compete in the trials to harbor any hope for Tokyo 2020” said WFI sources to WrestlingTV.
It is completely clear that the trials in the first week of January will decide the destiny of Sushil Kumar, Gaurav Baliyan and the other Indian wrestlers. Will Sushil take up the challenge and compete – it will be decided by the greatest Indian wrestler himself.
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