CHENNAI : Given the high-profile participation and possibility of disruption from unruly fans, the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) on Tuesday decided to shift men’s trials for the World Championships from Sonepat to Delhi’s IG Stadium. Star wrestlers including World No 1 in 65kg weight category Bajrang Punia are expected to participate in the trials, scheduled on Friday. The trials for women’s wrestlers will be held at SAI Centre, Lucknow on July 28.
This newspaper reported on July 18 that a few referees had requested the WFI to shift the venue from SAI Centre at Bahalgarh in Sonepat to Delhi fearing untoward incidents. Citing past instances wherein supporters had roughed them up at the Bahalgarh Centre, the referees had urged the federation to shift the venue.
“The trials have generated a huge interest among fans as they want to see their favourite stars in action. Bahalgarh Centre is small and doesn’t have proper seating arrangements. Besides, it’s also difficult to contain supporters in case they do not agree with decisions of the referees and judges. These all factors made the WFI to shift the venue to Delhi where management will be comparatively easy,” WFI assistant secretary Vinod Tomar told this newspaper.
The shifting of venue, however, alone cannot guarantee peaceful conduct of the trials. Even the IG Stadium in Delhi witnessed ugly scenes during the Commonwealth Games trials a couple of years ago when supporters of Sushil Kumar and Parveen Rana confronted each other and exchanged blows. The men’s trials will begin at 8am.
Rana-Sushil bout postponed
Meanwhile, trials in the 74kg weight category, wherein two-time Olympic medallist Sushil competes, could only be organised in the second week of August. Rana, the main opponent of Sushil in the division, has requested the WFI to postpone the trials citing injury. “It’s true. The trials in the 74 kg division has been postponed. Parveen (Rana) requested the WFI to postpone the trials as he is still recovering from an injury picked up in Turkey. We don’t want walkovers this time, hence we decided to hold the trials in the weight category in the second week of August,” confirmed Tomar.
Sushil recently returned to the country after training in Russia. Rana contested in 79kg in the Asian Wrestling Championships held in China in April and bagged silver. He, however, decided to contest in the 74kg division in the trials.
As the World Championships, scheduled in Kazakhstan from September 14 to 22, will serve as first qualifier for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the trials in Delhi and Lucknow will be held in Olympic weight categories. With the bout in 74kg postponed, the men’s trials will now be held in five categories. The women’s trials will be held in all six Olympic weight categories. The trials in four other categories, which are also part of the World Championship, will be conducted later.