New Delhi: Rio bronze medallist Sakshi Malik will compete in her first major event since the Olympics as the Asian Wrestling Championships get under way here on Wednesday.
With big names Yogeshwar Dutt, Sushil Kumar and the Phogat sisters — Geeta and Babita — missing out, the onus will be on Sakshi, Olympian Sandeep Tomar and Bajrang Punia to help the hosts improve on their last year’s performance.
India bagged a total of nine medals including a gold, three silver and five bronze in Bangkok last year, with Sandeep clinching gold in the 57kg freestyle category.
This is the first major competition for the home wrestlers this year and India have fielded a 24-strong team for the championship with eight each in freestyle, women and Greco-Roman categories.
Over the next five days, 112 freestyle, 103 Greco-Roman and 83 women wrestlers will vie for 24 gold and silver along with 48 bronze medals.
Some of the top grapplers from Iran, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Japan, Korea, China and Mongolia will fight for top honours at the KD Jadhav wrestling arena.
All eyes will be on Sakshi, who is up against Asia’s best in the 60kg freestyle category. Other women wrestlers to look out for will be the lesser-known Phogat sisters — Vinesh and Ritu....