India’s wrestling stars Vinesh Phogat and Bajrang Punia are included in the top Grade A category along with Pooja Dhanda, as the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) on Friday rolled out its revolutionary contracts system for the grapplers. The wrestlers under this category will get a remuneration of Rs 30-lakh by the Federation.
It was expected that both Bajrang and Vinesh would be among the top earners, considering that they had won the Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games gold medals this year earlier this year.
Pooja Dhanda, to her credit, became only the 4th Indian woman to win a World Championship medal.
However, Olympians Sakshi Malik and Sushil Kumar, who are both struggling for form in the recent times, failed to make it to the top Grade.
They will feature in Grade B and will be offered a financial support of Rs 20 lakh per annum. All the contracts are to be reviewed after a period of one year.
As reported by us earlier, WFI became the second Sports Federation in the country after BCCI to offer contracts to its players, and the first and only Indian Olympic Association-affiliated National Sports Federation to do so.
The big announcement was made by the WFI President Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh in the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Aditya Nath’s presence. “Grapplers could move up or down after reviewing in the grades,” said Brij Singh.
“Sushil changed the face of the sport in the country with his two Olympic medals. We have to have him in the list despite the fact that he is not competing much. Sakshi’s performance is also going up and down but wrestlers can jump into the next category with good performance,” promised Singh.
Vinesh Phogat hailed the big decision, stating how big a boost the new system would be, especially for the sport at the junior level.
“It is good for the junior wrestlers. It will be an added motivation. There will be medal, fame and support. It’s really a good incentive for the Cadet and junior level wrestlers,” Vinesh was quoted by PTI.
Vinesh also added that the contracts would equally help established stars like her.
“The budget will shoot up now and we can use it for more exposure in terms of training and competitions abroad. We can plan better now without worrying about funds. I plan to compete in at least 5 tournaments, especially the UWW ranking events, next year,” she said.
The ‘C’ category that offers a financial support of Rs 10 lakh has prominent names like Sandeep Tomar, Sajan Bhanwal, Vinod Om Prakash, Ritu Phogat, Sumit Malik, Deepak Punia and Divya Kakran.
The ‘D’ category will get Rs 5 lakh as a support and will feature Rahul Aware, Naveen, Sachin Rathi, Vijay, Ravi Kumar, Simran, Mansi and Anshu Malik.