City anchor: 2020 big blow, Delhi wrestlers pin hopes on Rio
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Mahabali Satpal's akhara, based out of the Chhatrasal Stadium, has provided three of the four Olympic medals that India won in wrestling. Apart from that heavy claim, the bowl has also delivered countless pehelwans of recognition since its establishment.
Amit Kumar was the latest entry to that prestigious list of individuals who had represented India at the Olympics after learning his trade under Satpal's eyes.
Kumar was in the middle of a training session at Chhatrasal Stadium when he heard the news of wrestling's Olympic fate. Unaware of the full details, the 19-year-old pieced it together through various news reports — following the Rio Olympics in 2016, wrestling will not be a part of the games.
First, came the bout of shock and sadness. Then, the realisation: He has only one shot at reaching where Sushil Kumar and Yogeshwar Dutt are. Only one shot at an Olympic medal.
"Rio is my only target now. I don't know what will happen now or in the future, but if it's true, then it means I have only got one more shot at the medal," Kumar told Newsline on Tuesday.
In Bawana, Sushil's long-time coach, Yashvir, had the unenviable task of breaking this news to close to 70 fresh cadets at a government-run training centre. "They were stunned. They refused to believe me. But when the truth and the effect of this move dawned upon them, they were all sad," Yashvir said. "Saare ke saare hataash ho gaye (They all seemed defeated)."
Yashvir is worried for the future of wrestling in India. "Why will children want to take up wrestling now? Parents will rather have their kids train for other games like boxing, which are part of Olympics," he said. "This will directly impact our talent pool. It will be harder to command new talent."