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Sushil Best Bet For Hosts At CWG

NEW DELHI: Wrestling makes its return to the Commonwealth Games after being dropped from the 2006 program, mired in a drugs scandal, which has sent shockwaves through host India's training camp. The sport was plunged
PTI September 26, 2010 14:02 IST
PTI
NEW DELHI: Wrestling makes its return to the Commonwealth Games after being dropped from the 2006 program, mired in a drugs scandal, which has sent shockwaves through host India's training camp.

The sport was plunged into controversy after four wrestlers including Indian gold prospect Rajiv Tomar failed dope tests and were suspended earlier this month.

In the battle for wrestling gold, local posterboy Sushil Kumar is one of the home crowd's best hopes of gold after winning the world under-66 kilogram (145 pound) category in Moscow earlier this month.

"Winning a gold medal at the world championships is a huge achievement for me after the Beijing Olympic Games and before the Commonwealth Games," Kumar, the first Indian wrestler to win a world title said.

"My next target is to win a gold medal in the Delhi Games."

Australia has selected a 20-strong team with all athletes bar veteran Cory O'Brien, 38, set to make their Commonwealth debut. New South Wales's Shane Parker will become the first Aboriginal wrestler to compete for his country.

At the opposite end of the age-scale, 17-year-old Justin Holland (55kg) is the youngest member of the team.

" India are currently top of the Commonwealth and taking them head-on in a home Games is going to be quite a task for the Australian athletes," Wrestling Australia president John Saul said.

Wrestling was part of the ancient Olympics and is one of the oldest sports known to man. It takes many forms, but at the Commonwealths there are just two types - Greco-Roman and freestyle.

Matches take place on a mat with the winner being the first to win the best of three periods, which last two minutes each and are separated by 30-second breaks.

Delhi 2010 will feature 14 weight categories for men, seven freestyle and seven Greco-Roman ranging from 50kg to 120kg.

Women's wrestling has been included for the first time and they compete in seven freestyle divisions, with wrestlers tipping the scales between 44kg and 72kg.

The 17-strong Canadians are expected to be among India's biggest rivals, led by Carol Huynh, 29, the reigning Olympic champion in the women's 48kg class.

Other medal contenders include Sian Law of New Zealand, and her team mate Sam Belkin, his country's first wrestler in the ancient Greco-Roman version of the sport.

Andrei Paulet who moved to New Zealand from Romania eight years ago has been ranked the country's best junior and is in his first year in the senior ranks.

Meanwhile, it's a family affair for Scottish twins Donna and Fiona Robertson who have set their sights on Commonwealth glory in separate weight categories after both qualified at the British Championships in Glasgow in July.