THE MOOD IN THE BENGALURU YODHAS CAMP is one of quiet optimism as they gear up to start their campaign in the inaugural editon of the Pro Wrestling League (PWL) against formidable Haryana Hammers at the KD Jadhav Stadium in New Delhi.
With the inaugural edition of the PWL lasting for just under three weeks, pre-season preparations have assumed increased importance. Indians in the Yodhas frachise underwent a 10-day training camp at the Sports Authority of India (SAI) Centre in Sonepat and coach Kuldeep Malik is confidenbt that the value of the time spent in Sonepat would be seen as the tournament progresses.
"It was important for our team to train in a cohesive and intense manner before the start of the PWL. All our wrestlers were coming off a break after the World Championships and it was essential for them to find good rhythm. Over the last 10 days, we have ensured that we have sparred with good opponents, worked on our fitness and I am confident that Bengaluru Yodhas will put up a strong show once the tournament begins," the 54-year-old said.
Captained by 2015 World Championship bronze medallist Narsingh Yadav (74 kg), the Yodhas have assembled a formidable squad. Bajrang Punia, the 2013 World Championship bronze medallist will be competing in the 65 kg category while Sandeep Tomar is the representative in the 57 kg category.
Former European Champion Pavlo Oliynik of Ukraine (97 kg) and London Olympics silver medallist Davit Modzmanashvili of Georgia (125kg) are their foreign recruits ine men's section.
In the women's draw, five-time World Championship medallist Yuliya Ratkevich (58kg) of Azerbaijan and USA's Alyssa Lampe (48kg) are the two foreign faces. Joining them are Lalita Sehrawat (53kg) and Navjot Kaur (75kg).
Icon player Narsingh Yadav, who will be the team captain, said that while the mood in the camp was upbeat, it was necessary to maintain focus and not let the intensity of dip.
"While the duration of the League is short, we will need to maintain our focus and determination. We are wrestling almost every three days and it is important that we take care of our bodies. In Sonepat we have worked very hard on our fitness as we look to minimise injuries and build good match-rhythm," he said.
Yuliya, a bronze medalist at the 2012 London Olympics joined up with the Yodhas squad in Delhi on Tuesday after having competed at the Golden Grand Prix in her native country.
Yuliya said that though the Yodha's foreign representatives have arrived just a couple of days before the start of the PWL, she sees no reason to doubt their match-fitness.
"All the foreigners including myself have been busy competing in a number of tournaments. We are fit and ready to go. Three of our four foreigners wrestled at the Golden Grand Prix and judging by their performances there, I don't think any of us will have a problem in performing in these conditions," she said.