|Sandeep Tulsi Yadav celebrates with a team official after winning the bronze on Sunday. (AP)
New Delhi: For those who still believe India can make a mark in Greco Roman wrestling, the bronze medal victory of Sandeep Tulsi Yadav in the 66 kg of the World Wrestling Championship in Budapest has come as huge boost.
The chief coach of the Indian team, Vinod Kumar, on Monday, said that the 25-year-old from Uttar Pradesh, who practises in Mumbai, could turn out to be the Sushil Kumar of Greco Roman wrestling in India.
“Greco Roman was always treated like the step son by fans and the media because India hardly ever did well in this category,” Vinod said. “Freestyle wrestling received a shot in the arm in 2008 when Sushil won the bronze in Beijing Olympics. What happened after that is history. Sushil’s medal was like a new dawn in freestyle wrestling.”
The chief coach said he was always hopeful about Yadav getting into the medal bracket. “The boy is very serious in training. He is very hard working and has good strength. On Sunday, he had injured his fingers but still managed to pull through.”
Yadav said he was confident about winning in the repechage rounds. “All I knew was I would have to concentrate. I watched the Serbian (Aleksandar Maksimovic) during his other bouts and knew how I can manage some points. I did exactly that. I am over the moon.”
Being the first Indian to win a World championship medal in Greco Roman, Yadav said: “I am sure I would not be the last. Now wrestlers in India would be encouraged to fight in this category.”
A wrestling official said the induction of new blood was needed. “For years, India had been represented by almost the same lot of wrestlers in Greco Roman. In freestyle, the competition is always very tough. In each weight category, there are at least three to four wrestlers, who are good enough the represent India.”
In recent years, India’s best show in Greco Roman came in the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi. Three Indians – Ravinder Singh (60kg), Sanjay Kumar (74) and Anil Kumar (96kg) won gold medals.