Asiad selection trials may be extended to accommodate protesting wrestlers  

The Worlds is scheduled in Belgrade, Serbia from September 16 to 24 while the wrestling competitions in Asiad will be held between October 4 to 7 in Hangzhou, China.

Published: 09th June 2023 12:45 AM  |   Last Updated: 09th June 2023 12:45 AM   |  A+A-

Wrestlers during their protest at Jantar Mantar, terminated by cops on May 28 | Express

(From L to R) Wrestlers Bajrang Punia, Sakshi Malik, Vinesh Phogat. (Photo | Express)

Express News Service

CHENNAI: Trials to select the national wrestling team for the upcoming Asian Games may be extended to accommodate protesting grapplers including 2020 Tokyo Olympic bronze medallist Bajrang Punia. Coach Gian Singh, who on Thursday was included in the ad-hoc committee formed by the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) to run the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI), hinted at the possibility soon after being named.

The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) has asked all the national sports federations to submit their Asiad entries latest by June 30. It, in turn, will have to send entries to the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) by July 15. "Bajrang had told me in the past that he wanted to appear for the Asian Games trials. I cannot talk about Vinesh (Phogat) and Sakshi (Malik) as they didn't speak with me in this regard. Bajrang did express his interest," Singh told this daily. Apart from Singh, another wrestling coach Ashok Garg has also been included in the panel. 

Union sports minister Anurag Thakur, on Wednesday, had mentioned that two coaches would be included in the committee as they need people with technical expertise ahead of the Asiad trials. In fact, Singh and Garg were competition directors during the two past trials conducted by the ad hoc committee.
Singh said they will soon talk to wrestlers and finalise the dates of the trials. "It's not about Bajrang only as there are other wrestlers who wanted to compete in trials. We will soon speak to wrestlers and seek their opinion on trials. If they agree, we will not mind extending the dates if required. Anyways, these wrestlers need time to prepare. As everyone knows, they have not trained or competed for months now. The one-and-a-half-month period may not be enough but it will give them some time to prepare. Most probably, the trials will be held in the second week of July," added Singh.
It should be mentioned here that the ad-hoc body has earlier said that it will conduct trials for Asiad between June 20-25. As Asiad will have competitions in six Olympic weight categories, trials for the same were planned first. Besides, a team for the upcoming World Championships, which is also an Olympic qualifier, has to be selected. Given the situation, the ad-hoc panel has decided to hold selection trials in the remaining four weight categories before June 30.
The Worlds is scheduled in Belgrade, Serbia from September 16 to 24 while the wrestling competitions in Asiad will be held between October 4 to 7 in Hangzhou, China. The WFI had sent the provisional entries for the Asian Games before the ad-hoc panel was formed. The list included Bajrang and Vinesh but Sakshi Malik's name was not included.
Speaking on elections, Singh said, "Elections need to be conducted and as the sports minister said the IOA and ad-hoc panel will try to complete the process by June 30. But anything in this regard could be said with conformity once the matter is discussed with all stakeholders."
Notably, the United World Wrestling (UWW), the world governing body, has earlier in its statement asked the IOA and ad-hoc panel to abide by the 45-day deadline to complete the election process. As the panel was announced on April 27 and its members took charge on May 4, the deadline is ending on June 17.
Completing the process by the given deadline of June 30 as announced by the sports minister looks difficult as the panel has yet not appointed a retired High Court judge to ensure fair and transparent elections. Besides, a 21-day notice has to be served to all state units for the special general meeting to hold the polls. Singh, however, said confidently the UWW will not mind extending it once apprised of the situation.


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