Sushil, Sakshi likely to participate in Asian Games without trial

The wrestlers will likely be exempted by the Wrestling Federation of India from taking part in a trial for the tourney.

Sakshi Malik (in picture) won the Olympic bronze at Rio in 2016.   -  PTI

Sushil Kumar, Sakshi Malik, Vinesh Phogat and Bajrang Punia will be eligible to participate in the upcoming Asian Games after being exempted from the trials scheduled for June, according to a Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) official.

The federation decided to let these wrestlers prepare for the tourney on their own after receiving requests from them, an official told PTI.

The decision was taken keeping in mind the credentials of these wrestlers and the fact that they faced no competition from others in their weight categories, according to the official. “The WFI has taken a decision in principle to let these wrestlers prepare on their own and not disturb them. On their requests, we have decided to let them skip the trials as they are best bets in their weight categories and hardly face any competition,” a top WFI official told PTI.

‘No objection’

“Sushil has requested us to train at the Chatrasal Stadium under our coach Vinod. Vinesh and Sakshi are currently at the national camp, while Bajrang is Georgia with his personal coach. The WFI has no objection because they face no competition in their weight categories. The WFI is only bothered about medals and we feel allowing them to skip the trials will reduce the pressure on them,” he added.

Read: Sania Mirza among eight athletes dropped from TOPS

Although a formal decision is yet to be taken in this regard, the WFI official said it is more or less certain. “We have taken this decision in consultation with our coaches who also feel that asking them to come for the trials will put extra pressure on them which we don’t want. We at WFI feel they are our best bet in their respective weight categories and can bring medals for us,” the official said.

Read: Indian athletes' Asiad accreditation rejected for toothy grin

The WFI will hold the trials for the men’s categories — freestyle and Greco-Roman — on June 10 at the Sports Authority of India (SAI) centre at Sonepat, where a training camp for both the categories is going on. Similarly, the training camp for women wrestlers is being held at SAI, Lucknow, and the trials are expected to be held there on June 17.

Possible hurdles

The WFI may face hurdles in allowing wrestlers to skip the trials because of a 2014 Delhi High Court directive, which ordered sporting federations to conduct trials before any major tournaments. Interestingly, it was two-time Olympic medallist Sushil who had taken the WFI to court after the federation had decided not to hold a trial for the 74kg freestyle category in the run-up to the 2016 Olympics.

The WFI had decided to let Narsingh Yadav represent India at the Rio Olympics after he had won a quota place for the country. Asked about the matter, the official simply said: “The WFI’s stand remains the same. That time Narsingh won the quota place and as per WFI rules whoever wins the quota place gets to represent the country. But in this situation Sushil doesn’t have any competition and he is the best best in his weight category.”