Bajrang Punia and Vinesh Phogat would be dropped from India’s Asian Games team if they fail to qualify for the World Championships, and it will be proposed to the IOA’s ad-hoc panel, a member of the committee said.
Bajrang Punia (men’s freestyle 65 kg) and Vinesh Phogat (women’s 53 kg) received direct entry for the quadrennial showpiece, while competitors in the other 16 Olympic weight divisions underwent trials on July 22 and 23 to secure their spots in the Indian squad for the Hangzhou Games, which start on September 23.
When they staged a sit-in strike at Delhi’s Jantar Mantar from April 21 to May 28, Punia, Phogat, and four other wrestlers asked for time until August 10 to get ready for the trials. Nevertheless, the Olympic Council Asia (OCA) declined to extend the deadline for receiving wrestling entries by name, which remained set on July 23.
The wrestling community was outraged by the IOA ad-hoc panel’s judgment to carry out trials but exclude Punia and Phogat, claiming bias in the choice they made.
Gian Singh, a member of the board told PTI:
“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.”
As of now, Kaliraman (men’s freestyle 65 kg) and Antim Panghal (women’s 53 kg) are on standby as they won in the Asian Games trials in Bajrang and Vinesh’s respective weight classes.
Gian Singh further added:
“We are proposing that the two third-place winners (on 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.”
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