India wrestlers shocked at Olympics move to drop sport

India's Sushil Kumar (L) wrestles Japan"s Tatsuhiro Yonemitsu in their Men's 66kg Freestyle gold medal match on August 12, 2012 during the wrestling event of the London 2012 Olympic Games Four out of India's total 24 Olympic medals are from wrestling

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India's wrestlers have expressed shock at the recommendation of International Olympic Committee (IOC) that the sport be dropped from the 2020 Games.

Four out of India's 24 Olympic medals are from wrestling. Wrestling also gave India its first individual Olympic medal in 1952.

Two of India's six medals at the 2012 London Olympics were won by wrestlers.

The IOC recommended its dismissal after assessing the performance of all 26 sports at the London Games.

There is a slim chance that wrestling may win a reprieve when the IOC meets in September to ratify its choice.

Correspondents say the decision will come as a big blow to Indian wrestlers who have been making a mark internationally.

"It's a huge setback. I can't believe that IOC can take such a harsh decision about one of the oldest Olympic sports," Sushil Kumar, who has won two medals at Olympics, was quoted as saying by the Hindustan Times newspaper.

"At the Beijing Olympic Games, my aim was to win a medal and I succeeded. For London, my target was gold, but I could manage a silver. So I am determined to make up for the London loss at Rio [games]."

Senior wrestling official Raj Singh said the recommendation was a "huge loss for the country".

"But I am sure that the international wrestling body will not let the sport be shown the door from the Olympics," he said.

Senior coach Yashvir told The Indian Express that young wrestlers at his camp were stunned by the news.

"They all seem defeated," he said.

Mr Yashvir said he was now worried about the future of wrestling in India.

"Why will children want to take up wrestling now? People will rather have their children train for other games like boxing. This will directly impact our talent pool."

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