Wrestler Sushil Kumar to compete in 74kg in Rio Olympic Games, Yogeshwar Dutt in 65kg
Wrestlers Sushil Kumar and Yogeshwar Dutt -- India's Olympic medal hopes -- will compete in 74kg and 65kg categories respectively at the 2016 Rio Games to avoid face-off against each other.
Putting to rest all speculations, it was today confirmed that star wrestlers Sushil Kumar and Yogeshwar Dutt will compete in 74kg and 65kg categories respectively at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games to avoid face-off against each other.
However, in the FILA competitions, including the world and the continental championships, they will compete in 70kg and 65kg categories.
Two-time Olympic champion Sushil and London Games bronze medallist Yogeshwar, who were competing in the 66kg and 60kg freestyle respectively before FILA's announcement to rejig weight classes, have conveyed their decision to the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) after a series of discussions with the national coaches.
As a result of their decision, Sushil and Yogeshwar will be seen competing in the 70kg and 65kg in the Colorado Springs tournament which will mark their return to the international arena since the 2012 London Games.
This will be the first time post FILA's announcement that the two star grapplers will compete in the higher weight categories in the Dave Schultz Memorial International tournament from January 30 to February 1 in the USA.
"Sushil has decided to compete in 70kg for the FILA competitions while for Olympic qualifiers, Olympic Games, Commonwealth Games and Asian Games, he has decided to move to 74kg to avoid any face-off against Yogeshwar. His childhood buddy Yogeshwar has also decided to move to 65kg from his traditional 60kg for Olympic events and FILA championships," chief national coach Vinod Kumar told PTI.
"The decision was arrived at after a series of talks with both the wrestlers. It was a tough decision but was taken keeping in mind the interest of our nation," he added.
Sushil has struggled every time he had to reduce his weight to compete in 66kg. Yogeshwar has won his Olympic medal in the 60kg category in 2012 while Sushil competed in 66kg for his historic silver at the London Games.
Kumar also informed that World Championship silver medallist Amit Kumar Dahiya will move to 57kg in the Olympic and FILA events as 55kg has been scrapped. He will compete in the 57kg at the Dave Schultz Memorial International.
Dahiya's compatriot and World Championship bronze winner Bajrang will compete in 61kg freestyle category as per the new weight addition for the FILA competitions, World Cups and Golden Grand Prix championships.
Narsingh Yadav, who had won the gold medal in the 2010 Commonwealth Games competing in the 74kg, will now move to 86kg for the Olympic and FILA events to make way for his senior pro Sushil.
Satyavrat, winner of the 9th Roustam-E-International Indian Style wrestling title, will compete in the 96kg.
"The wrestlers are undergoing training as per the new weight categories at Sonepat to prepare for the USA championship and other international events," Kumar added.
FILA had tweaked the 18 weight divisions in Geneva last month and the rule changes and competition format came into effect from today.
Sushil's coach and father-in-law Satpal Singh had different viewpoint when FILA had announced the change in the weight category. He wanted Sushil to fall back to the 65kg category as it was the nearest to the division he has been fighting in. However, later on, Satpal, a 1982 Asian Games gold medallist, has agreed to Sushil's proposed higher category.
FILA added two classes to women's freestyle and reduced one each from men's freestyle and Greco-Roman competitions, thus setting a 6-6-6 split among the three disciplines in Rio de Janeiro Games.
This weight change will also be applicable in the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games. In its Technical Commission meeting, the world body also decided to change weight categories in other FILA events to effect a split of 8-8-8 among the three disciplines.
For the Olympics, the men's freestyle wrestlers will compete at 57 and 65 kilograms rather than at 55, 60 and 66 kilograms. In Greco-Roman, the two lightest classes are now 59 and 66 kilograms.
Freestyle middleweight will remain 74 kilograms, followed by 86, 97 and 125 kilograms for heavyweights. Greco-Roman wrestlers will also compete at 75, 85, 98 and 130 kilograms.
For FILA events, the world body decided to add 61 and 70 kg classes to men's freestyle, 71 and 80 kg to the Greco-Roman field and 55 and 60 kg to the women's freestyle competition, making it an 8-8-8 split among the three disciplines.