Indian wrestlers have been asked to help the federation find a foreign wrestling coach with the Commonwealth Games around the corner. On Tuesday, the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) held a meeting with the wrestlers and the three chief coaches during which its president Brij Bhusan Singh Saran stressed on the need for everyone to keep their eyes open for potential candidates.
Former World and Olympic champion Sergei Beloglazov of Russia refused to come to India due to WFI’s ‘reputation’ of not sending foreign coaches for international tournaments, The Indian Express had reported. Foreign coaches have largely had to stay put at the training centre in Sonepat, while Indian coaches accompany wrestlers for international tournaments.
“We will hire today if we can find someone with good credentials. But I don’t think we will be able to hire anyone before the Asian Championships. We are trying to get a coach before CWG. We held a meeting to discuss this,” Brij Bhusan said.
The Asian Wrestling Championships will be held in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, from February 28, while the Commonwealth Games will be held at Gold Coast, Australia, from April 4.
India are without a foreign coach in any of the three disciplines – men’s freestyle, women’s freestyle and Greco-Roman. Coach Vladimer Mestvirishvili was asked to leave the post after the Rio Olympics. Two other coaches, women’s freestyle coach Roin Doborjginidze and Greco-Roman coach Emzar Makharadze, were also not given new contracts. The WFI is hoping that Emzarios Bentinidis, a former European champion and two-time Olympian, who is currently coaching Bajrang Punia, will agree to coach the national team. “We need a foreign coach and the federation asked me if I can check with my coach if he will be willing to join the national team. If he wants to, he can join the team after his contract with me ends,” Punia said.
The WFI had set criteria for the coach’s post — someone who has won an Olympic or World Championship medal. However, Bentinidis’ best finish at a World event is 4th place in 1999. He was the coach of the Georgian U-23 team and was assistant coach of the 2014 Olympic team. “We need to win medals at the Tokyo Olympics. We are focused on finding a foreign coach for the teams,” Brij Bhusan said.