India’s wrestling team is likely leave for Bulgaria on Monday, hoping to spar with their national squad. But the wrestling giants seem to be in no mood to entertain the Indians. Narsingh Yadav, Yogeshwar Dutt and rest of the contingent will instead prepare for the Olympics by training with Bulgaria’s junior team.With the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) channelising most of its energy in the ugly bout between Sushil Kumar and Narsingh that is being played in the court room, the preparation of other Rio-bound wrestlers seems to have gone for a toss.
India were scheduled to leave for Spala, Poland, on June 2 for a fortnight-long training camp followed by a three-day competition. But the WFI had to shelve that plan after they could not manage visas on time. A source said the initial delay in finalising the venue due to the ongoing tussle between Sushil and Narsingh for a spot in the 74kg resulted in them not getting visas. But WFI assistant secretary Vinod Tomar said they couldn’t procure necessary travel documents due to a delay from the embassy. “They have a new online system which requires biometrics and all. We were getting dates for visa interviews on June 17, which was very late. We made a special request to the embassy but they did not reply,” Tomar said.Poland was India’s second choice after Belarus refused to host team India, saying their wrestlers were training elsewhere. “That left us with few options. Iran is among the top nations in Asia but they don’t allow countries to train at their centre. So we were left with Bulgaria. It was anyway a part of our plans as we were planning to go there after Poland. Now, we will go there directly,” an offiical with the team said.
“Everyone is distracted because of whatever is happening. The uncertainty isn’t helping anyone’s cause. If we are away from here, perhaps we will be able to focus on wrestling.”So when the court will pronounce its judgment on Monday to decide who will represent India in the 74kg category, the Indian team, including Narsingh, will be on its way to the Eastern European country. Bulgaria is among wrestling’s powerhouses but India won’t be training with the country’s best. With their 11 wrestlers who’ve qualified for the Olympics training abroad, India will be left with no other option but to spar with Bulgaria’s juniors. “It’s not ideal, we know. But at least our wrestlers will be in a different, more competitive environment,” the official said.Tomar said the quality of Bulgarian juniors is good enough. “They are all good. We anyway need sparring partners so it does not matter much if it’s a junior or senior,” he said.After returning from Bulgaria, the Indian team will have its final preparatory camp in Colorado, USA, in July and leave for Rio directly from there. “The time zone and weather conditions in USA and Rio will be similar. Hence, we think it will be good if our wrestlers spend time in USA before going to Brazil,” Tomar said.