Top Indian wrestlers Bajrang Punia and Vinesh Phogat finally returned to training on Monday, following their two-week-long sit-in protest against the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh.
The protest led to the cancellation of their training camps and exposure trips abroad, with the wrestlers demanding Singh’s arrest. However, after discussions with coaches and officials from the Sports Authority of India (SAI), the IOA’s ad-hoc panel set dates for the Asian Championships (U17, 23) trials, scheduled to take place from June 10-18 in Bishkek.
The training sessions saw Bajrang sparring with Jitender Kinha while Vinesh trained with her cousin Sangeeta and Rio Olympics bronze medalist Sakshi Malik.
The ad-hoc panel also discussed resuming national camps for senior wrestlers, but SAI will make the final decision.
An IOA source said,
“There was no issue with regards to the men’s national camp and a date will soon be finalised by the SAI, but the women wrestlers are not keen to join the camp in Lucknow. They want the camp to be held in Delhi at the IG Stadium but accommodation is an issue there.”
The source added,
“The SAI officials are discussing it and will finalise the dates and venue for the camp soon.”
Meanwhile, farmers from Punjab and khap members from Haryana joined the wrestlers’ protest site in support. The farmers brought down the barricades to enter the site, prompting laborers to weld them back to ensure that the protestors did not breach the cordon.
The wrestlers’ agitation has affected their participation in international competitions, but with the trials and the Asian Games approaching, it remains to be seen how the situation unfolds.