The year 2013 was a watershed moment for Greco-Roman wrestling in India as Sandeep Tulsi Yadav won the country its first ever medal (bronze) in the discipline at a major event — the FILA World Championships.
Sandeep Tulsi Yadav receives a warm welcome after winning bronze at the World C'ships last year
A year on, the city lad is hoping to go one step ahead at this edition of the FILA World Championships to be held between September 8 and 14 at Tashkent (Uzbekistan).
"I'm targeting a gold or a silver medal in Tashkent. My preparations for the World Championships have been good.
I'm confident of returning home with a medal. I've worked hard on my stamina and technique and will not repeat the same mistakes I made last time round," Sandeep told SUNDAY mid-day before leaving for Uzbekistan.
The grappler also believes that the 2013 bronze medal has raised self-belief among his fellow Greco-Roman wrestlers.
"My bronze medal changed the perception that Indians cannot win medals in Greco-Roman. The mindset of our wrestlers now is completely different.
Now that we know that a medal can be won at the World Championships, everyone is more confident going to Tashkent," he added.
The newfound self-confidence notwithstanding, Indian wrestlers will have their work cut out in finishing among the medals as Freestyle veterans and India's top grapplers, Sushil Kumar and Yogeshwar Dutt, have given the tournament a miss.
Besides the wrestlers will also have one eye on the Incheon Asian Games that begin just five days after the World Championships end. The wrestling events will start from September 27.
However, Sandeep is confident India can replicate their showing from last year when they won three medals (Amit Kumar's silver in the 55kg and Bajrang's bronze in the 60kg event besides Sandeep's bronze) at the tournament.
"We can win at least three-four medals this time round. Ravinder Singh (59kg) and Harpreet Singh (80kg) are strong medal contenders in Greco-Roman.
Ravindra used to compete in the 60-kg weight class before FILA rejigged them. So, he has a natural advantage competing in the 59-kg event. But the number of gold medals will depend on the level of competition we face there," he said.