Walk into the Sports Authority of India’s (SAI) sprawling Kandivli campus and chances are that you might not even notice their wrestling centre.
Tucked away inconspicuously in a corner of the campus is the nerve centre of the city’s wrestling scene — the place where 2013 World Championship bronze medallist Sandeep Yadav and 2010 Commonwealth Games gold medallist Narsingh Yadav have spent 14 years honing their skills under the watchful eyes of coach Jagmal Singh.
The centre in itself consists of two non air-conditioned rooms: the weight training room equipped with dumbbells and barbells and the 900 sq ft main training room that houses the one thing that is a rarity in Mumbai: a wrestling mat, a luxury that no akhara in the city can afford.
However, Jagmal is unperturbed by the centre’s modest appearance. “The facilities here are not extraordinary but they are not bad either. Besides, we can’t just sit idle complaining about facilities. Even Milkha Singh and PT Usha did not have world-class facilities, but they were at par with the world’s best,” he told MiD DAY.
In a bid to motivate the 30-odd grapplers who train here or maybe just to cover up the paint peeling off the walls, three posters of London Olympic silver medallist Sushil Kumar adorn the walls of the main training room alongside a gigantic poster of the centre’s most decorated ward: Narsingh Yadav, who is pictured with the Arjuna Award he won in 2012.
Meanwhile, early Tuesday morning, Yadav himself — much smaller in reality than in the poster — is locked in an intense practice session with a partner in the corner of the mat which they share with five other grappling pairs.
Thanks to regular use, it’s pretty clear that the mat is fading, but no one seems to mind. They are only concerned about their partners and challengers, because when they lock hands during combat, only one thing matters: pinning your partner to the mat.
Not the heat, not the peeling wall-paint and certainly not the discoloured markings on the mat - Sandeep Yadav’s bronze medal at Budapest and Narsingh Yadav’s gold at Delhi in 2010 proves just that.
Men behind the medallists
While the 30-odd wrestlers training at SAI’s Kandivali campus make do with modest facilities, they are provided with a competent staff of four people:
> 1 coach
> 1 physiotherapist
> 2 doctors (a male and a female)