Deepak Punia is India’s biggest hope

The Wrestling Federation of India would be hoping to better not only its medals tally from the previous edition but also the colour of the medals when the Asian junior wrestling championships begin here from Tuesday.

It may not be easy, though, and the biggest hope is Deepak Punia, who has been in good form since last year. A Cadet world champion in 2016 and fifth at the Junior Worlds last year, Punia (86kg) won bronze at the recent Tbilisi Grand Prix even though it was overshadowed by the shock defeat of Sushil Kumar in the same competition.

Punia was also part of the national team at the World Cup earlier this year, one of only two Indians to manage a win there. Former junior National champion Sachin Rathi (70kg) and Sombir would be the other strong contenders for the host in the freestyle category while Sajan (77kg), who won bronze in the last edition, will look for a better show.

Among the women, Divya Kakran in the 68kg would be followed keenly given that she is the only one from the Indian squad to be named for the Asian Games and the competition will be the ideal platform to gauge her preparation for the continental event next month.

Divya, who beat Asian champion Navjot Kaur in the selection trials last month, had won silver in the 2017 Asian championships and bronze at the Commonwealth games earlier this year and, as such, would be among the favourites.

Besides these wrestlers, Anshu (62kg) and Sonika (72kg) would be hoping to continue their good form from the recent World Cadet championships, where they won a bronze each.

India had finished with 13 medals in 2017, but with just two gold.

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