Rio Olympics gold medalist woman wrestler Erica Wiebe will spearhead the campaign of defending champions Mumbai Maharathi in season 2 of the Pro Wrestling League to be held in Delhi from January 2-19, 2017.
“In our country wrestling is not a marquee sport. I know how big it is in India and I am extremely honoured to represent Mumbai Maharathi in the Pro Wrestling League,”said the 27-year-old Canadian at the media conference to launch the team in Mumbai on Friday.
The Mumbai squad also includes two other foreigners, both men, in Ukraine’s 97kg grappler Pavlo Olinyk, a two-time world championship bronze winner, and Rio Games bronze medal winner Jabariyil Hasanov of Azerbaijan.
The team’s Indian flavour would be provided by Maharashtra’s Rahul Aware, Pritam Dalal, Vikas Dagar (men), Sarita Mor and Lalita Sherawat (women).
Erica clinched a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games of 2014 held in Glasgow while Lalita won the silver at the same Games held in Scotland. Dalal and Dagar are junior Asian silver medalists.
The team will look up to its icon Erica, who had won the 75 kg gold medal in her debut Olympic appearance in Rio in August to become only the third Canadian grappler to achieve the feat.
Erica, a research scholar, told PTI that she received 20,000 Canadian dollars from her government for winning the gold in the Rio Games and she would be getting four times that amount, when converted to Canadian currency, for taking part in the PWL’s edition two.
“I was approached last year but our federation refused permission because of the Olympic Games. I am excited and cannot wait to step on the mat on January 2,” said Erica who is now based in Calgary and has played other sports like football and basketball too.
“I have been training for a month for PWL. I was disappointed I could not take part in it last year,” she said, adding the stint in the PWL will help her in pursuing her passion.
Mumbai Maharathi is to be coached by Dronacharya awardee Ramphal Mann who said he was 99 per cent confident that his team will win the title this year too.
“Ours is a balanced team with Erica spearheading it,” he said.