Sushil, the two-time Olympic medallist, along with Rio Games bronze winner Sakshi will now be the part for elite ‘A’ Category for the WFI central contracts. The duo joins Jakarta Asian Games gold medallists Bajrang Punia and Vinesh Phogat as well as the Budapest World Championship bronze medallist Pooja Dhanda in the elite bracket to get annual retainer ship of ₹ 30 lakh each.
The current form, and not the reputation or past record, was the key criteria to determine the wrestlers’ grading for the WFI central contracts as Sushil and Sakshi, in spite of an excellent record, were placed in the ‘B’ category.
Sakhsi while expressing a mixed notion, happiness for getting the WFI annual contract and disappointment for being in the ‘B’ category, had exuded confidence to move up the ranks with her performance.
However, the WFI in a special consideration has valued their contribution to the sports and potential for the future to extend the elite ‘A’ category to five athletes.
The duo is set to get a pleasant surprise as they put a pen to their respective annual agreements with the WFI.
The WFI president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, during the opening ceremony of the Tata Motors Senior National Wrestling Championship in Nandini Nagar last month, had confirmed the list of the wrestlers for annual contracts.
The WFI president had earlier confirmed that a total of 144 grapplers, including those at the grassroots level, will benefit from the scheme in its inaugural year. Sushil, Sakshi, Bajrang, Vinesh and Pooja in the top bracket will receive ₹30 lakh for their present contract term.
Seven other athletes in Grade C will get annual contracts for ₹ 10 lakh each. The 2016 Asian Championship Gold medallist Sandeep Tomar, World Junior Championship Silver medallist Sajan Beniwal, Vinod Kumar Omprakash, Ritu Phogat, Sumit, Deepak Punia and Asian Games Bronze medalist Divya Kakran form the ‘C’ category.
The annual retainer ships don’t bar the wrestlers from signing personal endorsement deals.
The WFI initiative is aided and supported by their commercial partners, Sporty Solutionz.