WFI ad-hoc panel hands direct Asian Games entries to Bajrang, Vinesh

New Delhi, Jul 18 (PTI) The IOA ad-hoc panel on Tuesday handed Olympic medallist Bajrang Punia and World Championship medallist Vinesh Phogat direct entries into the Asian Games, a decision which was taken without the consent of the national chief coaches and is set to be challenged by other wrestlers and their coaches.
The IOA ad-hoc panel said in a circular that it has already selected wrestlers in men’s freestyle 65kg and women’s 53kg but trials will be held in all six weight categories in each of the three styles.
The ad-hoc panel did not name Bajrang and Vinesh in the circular but panel member Ashok Garg confirmed to PTI that the two wrestlers have been exempted from the trials.
“Yes, Bajrang and Vinesh have been exempted from trials,” Garg said. These two wrestlers have done well in 65kg and 53kg categories but due to their protest against WFI chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, they have not competed in any international tournament this year.
At the same time, Sujeet Kalakal and Antim Panghal have logged impressive performances in the same categories.
Antim had become India’s first U20 World Champion last year and also won a silver medal at the senior Asian Championship this year. Sujeet is current U23 and U20 Asian champion. He also won a bronze at the U20 World Championship.
The panel did not favour four other protesting wrestlers — Sakshi Malik, her husband Satyawart Kadiyan, Jitender Kinha and Bajrang’s wife Sangeeta Phogat. The Indian Olympic Association’s ad-hoc committee took the decision just four days before the trials to select the wrestling squad for the Asian Games, scheduled to begin on September 23 in the Chinese city of Hangzhou.
The Greco-Roman (60kg, 67kg, 77kg, 87kg, 97kg, 130kg) and Women’s (50kg, 53kg, 57kg, 62kg, 68kg, 76kg) trials are scheduled for July 22, while the men’s freestyle (57kg, 65kg, 74kg, 86kg, 97kg, 125kg) trials will be held on July 23 at IG Stadium in New Delhi.
Bajrang, who was one of the six protesting wrestlers at Jantar Mantar demanding the arrest of Brij Bhushan, is currently training in Issyk-Kul, Kyrgyzstan. Vinesh, who won the 2018 Asian Games gold medal, is training in Budapest, Hungary.
Vinesh had pulled out of the recent Ranking Series event in Budapest due to sickness.
The two top grapplers, along with the four other protesting wrestlers — 2016 Rio Olympic medallist Sakshi, her husband Kadian, Sangeeta and Kinha — had sought time till August 10 to prepare for the Asian Games and World Championships trials.