Indian wrestlers ready to give up their medals

Indian wrestlers Sushil Kumar and Yogeshwar Dutt said they were confident that the sport would remain in Olympic fold for the 2020 edition of the Games.

The Olympic medal winning wrestlers, who were here to flag the “Push for Wrestling" campaign by softdrink company Mountain Dew, said the exclusion of wrestling from Olympics would affect India most. The campaign, aimed at garnering support to include wrestling in the core sport in Olympics, would travel across Haryana and Punjab.

“I feel we have nothing to fear as we have the backing of the entire country. I feel wrestling would be back in the core list as it is an ancient sport and is popular world over. The move has been strongly opposed by top countries and I am hopeful of a positive outcome,” Sushil told reporters on Wednesday. “More than big wrestling nations, India would be affected the most. We have just started to perform well. It will ruin the dreams of many youngsters who are training with the dream of participating in 2020 Olympics.”

The fate of wrestling now depends on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) meeting in Buenos Aires in September where it will also make the announcement of the host city.

Japan is among top contenders to host the 2020 edition and has given hope to the wrestling fraternity. “If Japan wins the bid to host the event, it will push for the inclusion of wrestling. It is a good news for us,” Sushil said.

The protests from wrestlers have also grown around world with two gold-medal winning wrestlers returning their medals to the IOC and a Bulgarian official going on hunger strike.

While Sushil didn’t conform to this form of protest, Yogeshwar said if returning the medal would help reinstate wrestling in the core list, he would do so.

"There are others ways of protesting as well. A lot of hard work goes in winning a medal. We have got no such instructions from our seniors or wrestling federation," Sushil, who won back-to- back medals in Beijing and London Olympics, said.
Yogeshwar, who won bronze at London Olympics, said: “Wrestling is my life. For me Olympics has no meaning if wrestling is taken out of it. If returning the medal will bring wrestling back into the fold, I will do it right away.”

Sushil and Yogeshwar, meanwhile, confirmed their participation in the next month's Asian Championships here.

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