India’s national wrestling championships postponed amid COVID surge

With COVID cases rising in the country, the Wrestling Federation of India has moved the national championships originally slated in December to January next year.

By Utathya Nag ·

India's national wrestling championships, which was scheduled from December 18 to 20, has been pushed back to January 2021 by the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“The situation is far from ideal. It is not possible to conduct nationals. We will try to host the championships towards the end of January next year,” WFI assistant secretary Vinod Tomar told the PTI.

"We have done that in the past too when circumstances dictated such a step," he added. 

The COVID wave has also struck India's wrestling community, with men's grapplers Narsingh Yadav and Gurpreet Singh testing positive for the coronavirus on Friday.

Women's wrestler Divya Kakran, who won the gold medal in the 68kg category at the Asian Championships earlier this year, has also returned a positive COVID test. 

The national championships were originally set to be held in Gonda, Uttar Pradesh, but Tomar informed that if other states are interested to host the event, the WFI will consider a change of venue.

With the Individual World Cup (IWC) set to begin in Belgrade, Siberia, from December 12, Tomar confirmed that India will be still sending a contingent for the event. There will, however, be no trials conducted for the tournament.

"We decided against hosting the trials and are sending the same wrestlers who competed in the Asian Championship in New Delhi in February," Tomar said. 

The Indian wrestling team to Belgrade will miss some big names with the likes of Jitender Kumar (74Kg), Sombir Rathi (92Kg) and Vinesh Phogat (53Kg) asked to be exempted from the tournament.

Tokyo-bound wrestler Bajrang Punia (65Kg) will also give Belgrade a miss, preferring a training camp in the US instead.

Punia, who recently got married to fellow wrestler Sangeeta Phogat, will travel to America with his coach Emzarios Bentinidis and physio Dhananjay for the camp at the Cliff Keen Wrestling Club, Michigan. It will be conducted from December 4 to January 3.

There, Punia will train under Sergei Beloglazov - a two-time Olympic champion – along with other top international wrestlers.