Star wrestlers Bajrang Punia and Vinesh Phogat were included in the top Rs 30-lakh Grade A along with Pooja Dhanda as the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) on Friday rolled out its revolutionary contracts system for the grapplers.
The Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) rolled out the much-awaited central contracts for its wrestlers on Friday, becoming the second national sports federation (NSF) after the Indian cricket board (BCCI) to offer such incentive to its registered pool of grapplers. The development is a historic first for any Olympic discipline in the country.
It was expected that Bajrang and Vinesh, who won the Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games gold medals this year, will be kept in the top grade.
Pooja had become only the fourth Indian woman to win a medal at the World Championship recently.
Two-time Olympic medallist Sushil Kumar and Rio Olympic bronze medallist Sakshi Malik, who are struggling with a form for quite some time, could not make the top Grade.
The gradation of grapplers has been done based on their performances at various international events and future medal chances. The contract will come into effect from November 15 and will be reviewed every year.
On Friday, during the sidelines of the ongoing senior nationals championship in Uttar Pradesh's Gonda, the WFI made the decision public and offered contracts in five categories - ranging from A to E.
Only Bajrang Punia, Vinesh Phogat, and Pooja Dhanda have been offered Grade 'A' contract with a top pay bracket of Rs 30 lakh, while two-time Olympic medallist Sushil Kumar and Rio Games bronze winner Sakshi Malik have been placed in Grade 'B' with a financial support of Rs 20 lakh each annually.
Apart from the two grades, the 'C' category, offering support of Rs 10 lakh, features prominent wrestlers like Sandeep Tomar, Ritu Phogat, Sumit Malik and Divya Kakran, among others. Similarly, some of the notable names in 'D' category, which will have a pay bracket of Rs 5 lakh, are Rahul Aware, Naveen, Utkarsh Kale and Sachin Rathi, while four wrestlers in category 'E' for Rs 3 lakh support include Navjot Kaur, Kiran, Harpreet Singh, and Jitendra Kumar.
Categories from 'G' to 'I' will have 30 gold medallists each from Under-23, Junior, Cadet and Under-15 national championships. Category 'F' wrestlers (U-23) will get Rs 120,000 per year, category 'G' (junior) Rs 90,000, category 'H' (cadet) Rs 60,000 and category 'I' (u-15) Rs 36,000 every year.
Apart from the central contracts, a broadcast deal with a leading sports channel has been worked out, which would guarantee close to 100 days of live telecast of national and international matches being staged in India from the new calendar, starting 2019.