- POSTED: 09 Sep 2013 19:09
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India may not be an Olympic gold medal winning heavy weight but it is very proud of its wrestling heritage. Not surprisingly then, the country's wrestling fraternity is pleased that the sport has regained its place on the Olympic roster.
NEW DELHI: India may not be an Olympic gold medal winning heavy weight but it is very proud of its wrestling heritage.
Not surprisingly then, the country's wrestling fraternity is pleased that the sport has regained its place on the Olympic roster.
One of the most traditional Olympic sports, wrestling has made a stunning comeback after being dropped by the International Olympic Committee just seven months ago.
Wrestling was chosen over competing bids from squash, baseball and softball, and will now be an official sport in both the 2020 Tokyo Olympics as well as in the 2024 Summer Games.
Nenad Lalovic, President for the International Wrestling Federation (FILA), said: "What we tried to do is update our sport to make it more spectacular, more watchable, make the rules understandable, and that is the only way to fill the wrestling halls – that is the goal for every sport … And also to be, as I said in my speech, an accessory for the sport and athletes."
Wrestling’s reinstatement, however, was no easy matter.
The FILA had to overhaul their governance to regain a foothold grip in the Olympics and was obliged to change its rules to make the sport more active.
It also added two new medal events for women and eliminated two for men.
Known as 'dangal' in India, wrestling has a glorious past.
In ancient times, it was a popular method for keeping one physically fit and was used as a hand-to-hand military exercise.
Indian wrestling was on an all-time high with three medals in the last two Games but the developments over the last six months had placed a big question mark on the future of several young grapplers.
Sushil Kumar, a gold medalist wrestler, said: "Although wrestling has already garnered two medals back-to-back, it will also perform well in Rio and (in) the 2020 Tokyo Olympics."
Wrestling coach Satpal Singh said: "When I heard about wrestling's reinstatement I could not believe. We had been fighting for it for almost a year. We would organise sit-ins, protest march; we were praying in temples and mosques and Sikh temples for wrestling's induction because after Sushil Kumar's double victory in Olympics, Indian youngsters are getting attracted to wrestling."
It was wrestling that gave India its first individual Olympic medal in 1952 and from a haul of 24 Olympic medals, four are from wrestling.
With the sport's reinstatement, India's grapplers now have real motivation to improve and hopefully add even more medals to India's tally.