New Delhi: India's wrestling fraternity, including Olympic medallists Sushil Kumar and Yogeshwar Dutt, hailed the reinstatement of the sport in the 2020 and 2024 Olympic Games during the International Olympic Committee (IOC) executive board meeting in Buenos Aires Sunday.
Wrestling won the first round of voting with 49 of the 95 votes cast. The joint bid of baseball/softball was second with 24 votes while squash was third with 22.
Wrestling will now be seen not only in the 2020 Games hosted by Tokyo but also in the 2024 Summer Olympics.
India's only double Olympic individual medallist Sushil Kumar, who won bronze in 2008 and silver in 2012, said the decision will motivate the next generation of Indian wrestlers.
"It is one of the best days for Indian wrestling. The anxious wait finally has come to an end. I feel that this decision will be inspire the next generation of Indian wrestlers. Wrestling has been one of the ancient sport and it was only a logical decision to reinstate it in the Olympic movement," Sushil told IANS.
He said Indian wrestling was on an all time high with three medals in the last two Games and developments over the last six months had put a question mark on the future of several young wrestlers.
"After success in Beijing and London, several youngsters had taken up the sport but their future was in doubt since February. Now I feel the Indian wrestlers who are aiming to represent India at the Olympics will definitely be inspired to win more medals," Sushil added.
Wrestling was surprisingly taken off from the 2020 Olympics by the IOC Executive Board in a February vote as the IOC looked to refresh its sports programme. But in May, the same executive board gave wrestling a second chance as it put it on the three-sport shortlist to be considered by the entire IOC membership in Buenos Aires.
IOA acting president V.K. Malhotra also hailed the IOC for reinstating the game.
"We were waiting eagerly for this news. The efforts of the world body FILA have yielded desired result. It is really good for the wrestlers," Malhotra said.
Wrestling dates back to ancient Olympics. Either Greco-Roman or freestyle wrestling or both have been in every modern Olympics except 1900.
Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) president Raj Singh felt that with Tokyo winning the hosting rights of the 2020 Olympics also had an impact on the final voting that saw wrestling regaining its place.
"We were pretty confident of surviving in the voting. We became sure when Japan, where wrestling is immensely popular, won the 2020 Games. Wrestling had a strong case and I thank world body FILA for its efforts," he said.
Yogeshwar Dutt, who won a bronze medal at the 2012 London Games, said he he feeling as if "he has won another medal".
"I must thank the top management in FILA and the IOC members. Wrestlers will now have a bright prospect. I am sure young Indian wrestlers will now be encouraged to take up the sport," he said.
Dronacharya awardee coach Satpal Singh said wrestling always held a special place in Olympics.
"I am very happy. This is a great news. Wrestling always held a special place Olympics. This game has also been lucky for India since no individual game has given the country four Olympic medals. I am sure we will come back with four medals from Rio," he said.