If Pakistani wrestlers are given systematic training with ample international exposure, they can make the cut for 2024 Paris Games
National wrestlers are preparing to launch their training for the 2024 Paris Olympics Qualifiers. Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) this time looks serious in providing ample opportunities to the budding wrestlers to try their luck and confirm some berths in the world’s most prestigious event.
I can write with authority that our wrestlers have the potential to achieve the milestones which apparently look a bit difficult but not impossible. But the PSB will have to keep the wrestlers constantly in the camp for the next one and a half years until the end of the qualifiers. We have seen in the last few events that our wrestlers went into the international circuit without reaching their peak form because of one or two months’ camps and that too in the most difficult situation.
I must say if they are given systematic training for longer duration with foreign training in between and ample international exposure by fielding them in all ranking events then I am sure we can make a cut for the 2024 Paris Games.
The big issue is how to boost the fitness level of the grapplers. Long, continuous training and top nutrition are the best tools to achieve the target.
Even in the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham our wrestlers were found short of the required fitness level.
Any ordinary approach will not put us in the Olympics. We need to treat wrestling in a professional way. Wrestling is the only discipline in Pakistan in which we have major chances of becoming the world beaters.
Besides highly experienced grappler Mohammad Inam, we also have young talent in Youth Olympics bronze medallist Inayatullah, Mohammad Sharif Tahir and Mohammad Bilal who can pull off wonders if they are smartly trained for the major task.
The authorities, both PSB and Pakistan Wrestling Federation (PWF), will need to coordinate effectively and make a brave effort to assist these wrestlers in the coming one and a half years. This time we have a little bit of time. And we will also need to field our wrestlers in the Asian Championships which are compulsory - only those grapplers will be able to field in the Olympic qualifiers who feature in the continental events.
Luckily, ideal weather is round the corner. And unlike last summer when wrestlers passed through tough times while preparing for the Commonwealth Games the first few months of training for the Olympics qualifiers will be in winter.
PWF has requested the Board to put 30 wrestlers and two officials in the camp. It will be important to give around five months training camp to the wrestlers on foreign soil in two phases. The first three months should be given before the World Championship 2023 and then a couple of months training will be required before the continental and world qualifiers which will be held in 2024. Iran and Kazakhstan are ideal destinations for training. In these countries, the wrestlers will not face any diet issues as Halal food can be obtained.
Ukraine is also regarded as a good training centre but there the players will face food issues. Hope the authorities will make a good decision in the coming months.
Our wrestlers need top partners to train with and that is why we stress foreign training. For example, in the 86kg category, there is no better player than Inam in Pakistan. So how will he train here? This is a big issue. Unless the top crop is provided with foreign training opportunities they will not improve.
A coach also will have to be sent on foreign tours along with the wrestlers so that he could monitor the whole exercise which will help him deftly tackle things when he handles the players in international events.
The PWF will also need some sponsors to implement its plan. I hope our wrestlers will be given full support in their Olympic bids.
The United World Wrestling (UWW) has already released the 2024 Paris Olympics qualifying pathway. According to the pathway the Olympic qualifiers time-frame will be from September 16, 2023, to May 12, 2024.
There will be a three-pronged qualification pathway: 2023 World Championship, 2024 continental qualification and 2024 world qualification.
As many as 288 wrestlers will compete in the 2024 Paris Olympics - 192 men and 96 women. The 2023 Senior World Championship, which will run from September 16-24, will see five grapplers in each weight category qualifying for the Paris 2024.
The gold, silver and two bronze medallists will qualify along with the winner of the fight which will be played between the two bronze medal fights losers.
As per rules two bronze medals will be awarded via repechage process which will include all those grapplers who lose to the finalists.
The World Championship will be followed by the 2024 continental qualification phase from which the top two wrestlers in each weight category will make it to the Olympics. This event will be held from April 12-14.
The last qualification tournament will be the 2024 world qualifying event which will run from May 9-12. The gold and silver medallists and the winner of the fight between the two bronze medallists will qualify.