Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju on Tuesday felicitated the medal-winning Indian wrestlers with cash awards for their best-ever performance in the UWW World Championships at Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan.
With one silver and four bronze medals, Indian wrestlers bettered their previous best performance at a World Championship which came in 2013, when the country won one silver and two bronze.
Deepak Punia was handed a cheque of ₹7 lakhs for winning the silver medal in men’s 86 kg, while the four bronze winners –Bajrang Punia (men’s 65 kg freestyle), Vinesh Phogat (women’s 53 kg), Rahul Aware (men’s 61 kg) and Ravi Dahiya (men’s 57 kg) were given ₹4 lakhs each.
The wrestlers were accompanied by the Wrestling Federation of India chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, who also called for making wrestling the national sport.
Four of the five medal winners – Deepak, Bajrang, Vinesh and Ravi –also earned Olympic quotas in the process. Rahul won a bronze in men’s 61kg, which is not an Olympic event.
It was the first time that India won four Olympic quotas at the Championships. Four years ago, India had earned just one Olympic quota.
There are 18 wrestling events at the Tokyo Olympics and Indian wrestlers will get two more qualifying opportunities, first at the Asian Wrestling Championships in March 2020, followed by the World Qualification tournament in April next year.
“I am very proud of this historic performance by the Indian wrestling team where they won five medals and four Olympic quotas,” Rijiju told reporters after the felicitation.
“This function and the rewards are a way of congratulating them and appreciating them for the honour they have brought for the country. The government will help in any which way possible so that there is no shortfall in preparation for the Olympics.”