After a long wait, the national camp for men wrestlers is all set to begin on September 15 in Sonepat, Haryana. So far, eight wrestlers have reached the venue and some have completely "locked themselves" inside their rooms for 14 days to comply with COVID-19 protocols.
While speaking to IANS, a Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) official heaved a sigh of relief that the camp was about to begin. "We have been waiting for it for so long. The federation is very happy. Hopefully, the women's camp would also start soon," the official said.
"We also wish that this [men's] camp goes ahead without any trouble [vis-a-vis Covid-19]. Some wrestlers have completely locked themselves inside their rooms and don't want to take any chances with their health. They say they will cook their own food inside the room and eat there only," he added.
Wrestlers in five freestyle categories -- 57kg, 65kg, 74kg, 86kg, and 125kg – and those in the 60kg, 77kg, and 87kg weight groups have been selected for Greco Roman for the month long camp that has been sanctioned by the Sports Authority of India till September 30.
Olympic-bound 57kg wrestler Ravi Dahiya is among those who have joined the camp. He said the campers have received strict orders from the SAI to follow the COVID-19 protocols.
"I am under quarantine right now, as per to the SAI process. We just hope that everybody stays safe and we can focus on our training. I will do yoga and routine exercise in my room," Dahiya told IANS.
Dahiya has had some strong performances last year despite the challenges of maintaining his current weight category, 57kg. After clinching a gold medal at the Rome Ranking Series tournament in January this year in the 61kg, he switched his weight to 57kg with the goal of winning gold at the 2020 Asian Wrestling Championships again.
Veteran Indian wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt has tipped Dahiya as a medal prospect for the Tokyo Olympics after his fine performances last year.
Despite the postponement of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Dahiya sounded positive. "It is not in our hands. I hope everything will be all right. I am just concentrating on my training. There is enough time [for the Olympics] and it will be wrong to comment on what would happen in the future. So, let's wait and see what happens and when this virus gets over completely," he said.
On the other hand, the women's camp, which was scheduled to start on Tuesday in Lucknow, has been deferred after several women grapplers, including Vinesh Phogat, refused to join it.