Geeta Phogat to lead India women at Asian wrestling meet


New Delhi: The battle for the women’s wrestling continental crown will witness some of the top contenders take to the mats of the K.D. Jadhav Wrestling Stadium at the Asian Wrestling Championship to be held here April 18-22.

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The Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) announced the squad, selected on the basis of trials held at the National Institute of Sports, Patiala Tuesday. Olympian and 2012 World Championship bronze medallist Geeta Phogat (59kg) will lead the Indian charge.

The 24-year-old, who bagged a podium finish at the 2012 Asian Championship with a bronze, will be aiming for a different medal this time around.

“The Asian Championships will be a good test for us as some of the best wrestling nations will be participating. The championship will also provide me a good opportunity to access my game before the World Championship later this year,” said Geeta.

Another bronze medal winner at the 2012 World Championships, Babita Kumari (55kg), will be vying for a podium finish. The 23-year-old, who narrowly missed out on a medal at the Dave Schultz Memorial International tournament, will look to make amends in the continental championships.

Chief national coach O.P. Yadav believes that the tournament will be an ideal opportunity for Indian women to excel with the home advantage.

“The women’s discipline in the sport has witnessed a gradual but steady rise in the country. Geeta has pioneered the way, giving the future women wrestles the required impetus to dream big. Indian women have been performing consistently and this championship will play a very significant role in the growth of the sport in India,” said Yadav.

Talking about the composition of the team, he said, “The team is almost the same as the one which participated in the 2013 World Cup in Mongolia. It is an experienced lot that has come through the trials. We have prepared hard at the national camp and I am confident of a favourable result.”

The level of competition also promises to be of high standard with strong holders like China, Japan, Kazakhstan and Mongolia confirming their participation.

The squad is as follows: Priyanka Singh (48 kg), Vinesh (51 kg), Babita Kumari (55 kg), Geeta Phogat (59 kg), Geetika Jakhar (63 kg), Navjot Kaur (67 kg), Jyoti (72 kg).

Chief coach: O.P. Yadav
Coach: Kripa Shankar
Foreign expert: Emzar Makharadze