Antim Panghal once again confirmed her emergence as one of the top wrestlers in the country by winning the World Championships trials in Patiala on Friday, while Diyva Kakran and Sarita Mor bounced back from the disappointment of losing the Asian Games trials to book spots for the global meet.
Antim, who recently made history by becoming the first Indian woman wrestler to win back-to-back U20 World titles as she defended her 53kg crown in Amman (Jordan), had also won the Asian Games trials last month.
But she was kept as standby after the Indian Olympic Association-constituted ad-hoc committee exempted Vinesh Phogat from trials and sent her name directly to the Sports Ministry for clearance.
But Vinesh, the 2018 Asian Games gold medallist, suffered a knee injury and Antim was on Friday included by the ministry in the list of athletes bound for the Asian Games, beginning in Hangzhou on September 23.
On Friday, Antim again emerged victorious in a field of four wrestlers that included Manju, Pooja Jat and Rajni to secure a berth for the World Championships in Belgrade from September 16.
World Championships bronze-medal winner in 57kg Sarita, after the shock defeat at the Asian Games trials last month to U23 World Championship bronze medallist Mansi Ahlawat, won the Worlds trials here to also secure a place in the team.
Kakran, who had moved up from 68kg to 76kg during last month’s Asian Games trials but could not qualify for the continental event, made up for the loss by topping the category on Friday to also book a ticket to Belgrade.
Kakran got sweet revenge over Railways grappler Kiran, who had beaten her during the Asiad trials.
Antim Kundu, silver medallist at the U20 World Championships held in Amman, also booked her place for the Belgrade event in the 65kg category, topping the group that had Sarika, Monika and Ravita.
The trials for selecting the freestyle team in all weight categories will be held on Saturday.
It remains to be seen whether the selected grapplers will be able to don India colours at the Worlds or compete under the United World Wrestling (UWW) banner after the world body banned the Wrestling Federation of India on Thursday.
UWW suspended the WFI for not conducting its elections on time, a development which will not allow Indian grapplers to compete at the World Championships under the Indian flag.
The Indian wrestlers will have to compete as ‘neutral athletes’ at the Olympic-qualifying World Championships, starting September 16 as the IOA ad-hoc panel for wrestling, led by Bhupender Singh Bajwa, were unable to honour the 45-day deadline for conducting the elections due to matter being sub-judice.
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