Bajrang Punia and Vinesh Phogat should be withdrawn from India’s Asian Games squad if they lose the upcoming trials for the World Championships will be proposed to the IOA’s Indian Olympic Association’s ad-hoc panel, a member of the committee said on Tuesday.
Punia (men’s freestyle 65kg) and Phogat (women’s 53kg) were given direct entries for the quadrennial showpiece while other candidates in the remaining 16 Olympic weight categories went through gruelling trials on July 22-23 to book their places in the Indian team for the Hangzhou Games, beginning September 23.
Punia, Phogat and four other wrestlers, who staged a sit-in protest at Delhi’s Jantar Mantar from April 21 to May 28, had sought time till August 10 to prepare for the trials.
However, the Olympic Council Asia (OCA) did not extend the deadline beyond July 23 for receiving wrestling entries by name.
The IOA ad-hoc panel then decided to conduct trials but exempted both Punia and Phogat, triggering angry reactions from the wrestling fraternity, which alleged bias in the decision.
“We will propose to the panel that only if Bajrang and Vinesh win the World Championship trials, only then they should be sent for the Asian Games, otherwise not.
If Bajrang loses the trial then he will be on stand-by and the winner of the Asian Games trial (Vishal Kaliraman) will go,” Gian Singh, a member of the panel told PTI.
As of now Kaliraman (men’s freestyle 65kg) and Antim Panghal (women’s 53kg) are standby players, having won the Asian Games trials in categories where Bajrang and Vinesh compete.
In the Olympic weight categories, the top-four finishers during the Asian Games trials and one of the six protesting wrestlers (in the relevant category) will be mixed to form one group.
“We are proposing that the two third-place winners (in the July 22-23 trials) should play an eliminator between them and the winner will be pitted against the trial winner. The exempted wrestler will be pitted against the grappler who lost the final.
“Then the winners of these bouts should clash against each other to win a place in the Indian team for Worlds,” Gian Singh explained.
“This is what we are going to propose in the next ad-hoc committee meeting. Let’s see if they agree.”
Apart from Punia and Vinesh, the other wrestlers who will be placed in these groups will be Sakshi Malik, her husband Satyawart Kadian, Jitender Kinha and Punia’s wife Sangeeta Phogat.
Sakshi, Sangeeta, Kadian and Kinha did not compete in the Asian Games trials.
Gian Singh said that none of these six wrestlers has so far communicated to them if they will compete in the Worlds trial.
For the non-Olympic weight categories, it will be open trials with all eligible candidates allowed to compete. There will be a relaxation of up to two kgs for all.
The non-Olympic weight categories in the men’s freestyle are 61kg, 70kg, 79kg and 92kg while in women’s wrestling it’s 55kg, 59kg, 65kg and 72kg. In the Greco-Roman style, the categories are 55kg, 63kg, 72kg and 82kg.
The wrestlers who have already worked hard to win the Asian Games trials feel that it’s unfair to ask them to appear in the trials again.
“We have just finished trials. Now do we train or again start preparing for another trial (for Worlds)? This is torturous. It’s very hard on the body.
It’s time to start preparing for the big tournament rather than stay worried about weight-cut that takes a toll on the body,” said a wrestler who won the Asian Games trial.
“It makes no sense to organise the trials again. They are not helping the wrestlers. It’s a tough sport.” Gian Singh though said everyone will have to appear in the trials.
- NBA roundup: Hornets work overtime to beat Celtics, Milwaukee downs Washington
- ODI World Cup 2023 sets record for most attended ICC event with 1.25 million spectators
- Hockey India names 34-member core probable group for National women’s coaching camp
- World Wushu Championship 2023: Roshibina Devi wins silver
- Sportstar’s ICC ODI World Cup 2023 team of the tournament: Rohit, Kohli, Shami, Maxwell among stars in XI