India, in all likelihood, will see the return of veteran wrestlers Sushil Kumar and Yogeshwar Dutt. The two Olympic medallists are expected to compete at the Senior Nationals in Indore next month, which has prompted speculation in wrestling circles that the two will be competing at the 2018 Commonwealth Games and Asian Games. The Indore Nationals will be the qualification tournament for trials for the two mega events. In women’s wrestling, Geeta Phogat and Babita Phogat, both Commonwealth Games gold medallists, are also set to return.
The sisters have confirmed their participation in the upcoming national tournament. While Sushil is training at the Chhatrasaal stadium, Yogeshwar has been preparing at his academy in Bali, Gohana. Sushil had previously expressed a desire to return to the mat and take part in the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia.
“We are aware that Sushil is preparing for a return and most likely he will enter the nationals to be eligible for selection in the CWG team. Everyone has to compete in the nationals if they want to be part of the team for CWG or Asian Games,” a source said.
Sushil, India’s only wrestler to win medals at two Olympic Games, had last competed at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games. He had returned with the gold medal in the 74kg category three years back. The 34-year-old has since been sidelined due to a shoulder injury. He missed the 2016 Rio Olympics as Narsingh Yadav qualified from his weight category.
Yogeshwar, however, did compete in Rio but was knocked out in the opening round of the 65kg category. A change in weight category is on the cards for the veteran wrestler who is expected to move to 70kg for the Asian Games.
“It is highly doubtful that they will compete at the Asian Games. CWG would be their target but if they do make the team for the Asiad, they will have to perform exceptionally well to beat the young wrestlers from other countries,” the source added.
Geeta and Babita, who won bronze medals at the 2013 World Championships, will be competing for a spot in the Haryana state team at Senior State trials which will be held in Rohtak on October 19. Haryana sends two teams to Senior Nationals and both women grapplers are expected to be part of one of the teams.
“We will be competing at the Haryana state tournament on Thursday. We will also compete at the nationals as we are preparing for a return,” Geeta said.