Indian wrestlers Bajrang Punia, Deepak Punia, Ravi Kumar, and Vinesh Phogat were seeded into their respective categories for the Tokyo Olympics. Both Bajrang and Deepak Punia have been seeded second in their categories, while Ravi Kumar has been seeded fourth. The World No. 1 Indian female wrestler, Vinesh Phogat, has been seeded a prestigious first in her category.
Let us take a look at these athletes in-depth and their prospects for finishing on the podium at the Tokyo Olympics.
Top 4 Indian Seeds at the Tokyo Olympics
Bajrang Punia- 65kg weight category
Bajrang Punia has been seeded 2nd in his 65kg weight category. The reigning World Champion, Gadzhimurad Rashidov from Russia was seeded first, while Daulet Niyazbekov from Kazakhstan was seeded third, and Ismail Muszukajev from Hungary rounded off the top four seeds for the category.
Bajrang Punia is one of the favourites to win a medal for India in wrestling at the Tokyo Olympics. The 27 year old is a 7 time Asian Championship medallist, with his latest achievement being a silver medal at the 2021 Asian Championships in Almaty. He won a gold medal at the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, as well as in the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast.
His latest achievement was a gold medal at the Matteo Pellicone Ranking Series 2021. His current No. 1 world ranking as well as his excellent form make him a serious contender for a medal at the Games this year.
Deepak Punia- 86kg weight category
Deepak Punia has also seeded 2nd in the 86kg freestyle wrestling category. The top seed is Olympic champion Hassan Yazdanicharati from Iran. The third seed is Myles Amine from San Marino, and the fourth seeded wrestler is current European Champion Artur Naifonov of Russia.
Deepak Punia shot to fame as he won a silver medal at the 2019 World Wrestling Championships, and secured a spot for himself at the Tokyo Olympics. He is the 2019 World Junior Wrestling Champion, as well as the 2018 Junior Asian Games champion in the 86 kg category.
His current form as well as his medal at the 2019 World Championships make him a strong competitor in the 86kg category at the Olympics.
Ravi Kumar- 57kg weight category
Ravi Kumar Dahiya will be the 4th seed in the 57kg weight category in freestyle wrestling at the Tokyo Olympics. Stevan Micic from Serbia will be the top seed in the category, while Zaur Uguev, the 2 time world champion from Russia will be second seeded. The third seed will be Suleyman Atli from Turkey.
Ravi Kumar won a bronze medal in the 57kg weight category at the 2019 World Wrestling Championships, also securing his sport at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. He won a back to back gold medal at the 2020 and 2021 Asian Championships. The top 4 seeded wrestler is said to make a strong entrance at his maiden Olympics.
Vinesh Phogat- 56kg weight category
Vinesh Phogat will be heading into the Tokyo Olympics as the top seeded wrestler in the 53kg weight category, a news which comes after she won a gold medal at the Poland Open Ranking Series. Second seed will be Mayu Mukaida from Japan, while the third seed will be Luisa Valverde from Equador. The fourth seed in the category will be Qianyu Pang from China.
Vinesh Phogat is the favourite to win a India a medal in women’s freestyle wrestling. She is the first Indian woman to win both the Asian Games as well as the Commonwealth Games. She won a gold medal in the 2021 Asian Games in the 50kg category. She has also won a bronze in the 2019 World Wrestling Chamionships.
The world no. 1 had to pull out of the Rio Olympics in the quarter finals owing to a knee injury. Phogat however is now coming back stronger then ever, as she looks to gain redemption at the Tokyo Olympics this year.