In December, 2017, the national governing body of wrestling, Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) thought that their long 16 months search for a foreign freestyle coach finally came to an end as they found a right candidate for the position.
They were in advanced talks with former Olympic wrestler and World Champion Sergei Beloglazov. The Russian international has coached his national team before moving on to coach USA, Japan and Singapore.
But the 61-year-old raised some concerns over the federation’s past record of not sending foreign coaches for international tournaments of the team and because of this reason the certain employment became dubious.
Beloglazov wasn’t ready to be limited only to national training camps.
“We were in talks with him and things were headed in the right direction. But while doing his due diligence, he got to know that foreign coaches have not accompanied the national team during tournaments,” a federation official said. “He raised that concern with us and even though we assured him that it won’t be the case with him, he didn’t look convinced. Eventually, the deal fell through.”
After the 2016 Rio Olympics, the WFI took a decision to separate their ways with foreign coach Vladimer Mestvirishvili who stayed with the team for 13 years and is the main reason for India’s dramatic rise during this period.
But the federation claimed Mestvirishvili had ‘outlived his usefulness’ and had to be replaced. Other than Mestvirishvili, the federation decided against renewing the contracts of women’s freestyle coach Roin Doborjginidze and Greco-Roman coach Emzar Makharadze.
One of the significant benchmark the federation have set for selecting the new coach was his own performance during his time, with the federation asserting the candidate should have won either an Olympic or World Championship medal.
Beloglazov was the best aspirant the federation came across. The Russian was the most dominant wrestler in the 1980s, winning six World Championship gold medals between 1981 and 1987. He also won the Olympic gold in 1980 and 1988.
The WFI official said Beloglazov’s snub was a surprise and now fears this ‘reputation’ might hinder their search. “He is a world-renowned wrestler and coach. The wrestling community is small and the top coaches know each other. He must have asked Vladimer about the working conditions in India, who would have given his opinion,” he said.
About the Author
Shekhar Dhingra is a sports journalist with 1.5 years of experience, having worked with sports business website "Market4Sports". He resides in New Delhi and is a die-hard sports fan with special affection for cricket and badminton. He desperately waits for weekend to relax his soul by playing cricket.