Grappler Jitender Kumar won the 74 kg trials on Friday and by doing so he has slimmed Sushil Kumar’s hopes to qualify for the Ranking series, Rome (25 to 28 January) as well as the Asian Championships, New Delhi (18 to 25 February).
However, Jitender will need to impress the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) in both the events to compete in the Tokyo Olympic Qualification competition in China. Sumit Malik (125kg) and Satyawart Kadian (97kg) also made it to the Indian contingent with victories over their opponents.
The WFI gave direct entries to World Championship medallists Deepak Punia (86kg) and Ravi Dahiya (57kg). Both the grapplers had sealed their Olympic quotas at the World Championship in Nur-Sultan.
Jitender won 5-2 against Amit Dhankar after Sushil Kumar had withdrawn due to his shoulder injury. The two-time Olympic medallist requested the WFI to postpone the trials, but the association did not budge.
Winners of the trials hold significance as the winners are selected in the wrestling team for three crucial tournaments: Ranking series, Asian Championships and the Olympic Qualification tournament.
However, WFI president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh said the association may hold new trials ahead of the Xian event. “If we find that the performance of our wrestlers is not satisfying at the first two events, we can have fresh trials to select wrestlers for the Asian Olympic qualifier,” Sharan told PTI.
“We want to send our best wrestlers so that India can have the maximum number of quotas for the Olympics,” he added. Sushil had beaten Jitender before the World Championships in September last year. However, WFI issued a clarification that Sushil Kumar will not be considered if Jitender performs well in Rome and Delhi.
“If we are happy with the performance of our wrestlers in Olympic categories, where we have not got the quota, we will not have trials. As for Sushil, no one will be allowed to go for Olympic qualifiers, without having to compete in trials. He said he is injured, so we have to believe in him,” he added.
Deepak defeated Pawan Saroha 6-2, Satyawarat won over Mausam Khatri by technical superiority and Sumit dominated Satender 9-0. WFI had exempted Bajrang Punia for his consistent performances, hence trials were not held in the 65 kg category.
In the Greco Roman style wrestling, Gurpreet Singh had a regular victory over Sanjan Bhanwal in the 77 kg category. Naveen (130kg), Hardeep (97kg), Sunil (87kg), Ashu (67kg) and Gyanendra (60kg) also find their place in the Indian squad.