CHENNAI: Sonam Malik’s twin failures in 62kg means the Rio bronze medallist Sakshi Malik will get another chance to make it to the Indian squad for the Asian Olympic Games Qualifier slated in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan from March 27 to 29. The Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) will hold selection trials for women’s wrestlers in 62 kg and 76 kg apart from Greco-Roman grapplers in 60kg for the qualifier on Wednesday. Women’s trials will be held in Lucknow while Greco-Roman competitions will take place in Sonepat.
The decision to hold trials was taken after wrestlers competing in these weight categories failed to win medals in the Rome Ranking Series last month and the recently-concluded Asian Championships in New Delhi. Wrestlers can compete in six weight categories in each of the three styles at the Tokyo Games. India has already booked four Olympic quotas including three in freestyle and one in women’s wrestling. As many as 14 spots are still up for grabs in the remaining two qualifiers. “After the selection trials in January, the WFI had made it clear that wrestlers’ performance in Rome and New Delhi will be taken into account before picking up the squad for the Asian qualifier.
Except for 62kg and 76kg in women’s wrestling and 60kg in Greco-Roman, all other wrestlers have justified their selections. It’s always good to send the best wrestler in a particular weight category for the Olympic Qualifier,” said Vinod Tomar, WFI assistant secretary.
Sonam lost her first bout to make an early exit in Rome. Form deserted her in New Delhi also as she was defeated by a Kyrgyzstan wrestler in the bronze-medal bout. Kiran, who competed in 76kg in both the events, also returned without a medal. In 60kg Greco-Roman, Gyanendra represented India in both the events but failed to finish on the podium.
Other Olympic categories wherein India didn’t medal in the two tournaments are 125kg freestyle and 130kg Greco-Roman. Sumit Malik and Satender competed in Rome and New Delhi respectively in 125kg. Naveen and Mehar Singh took part in the 130kg in the Ranking Series and Asian Championships respectively. However, Sumit and Naveen, who missed the home event due to injuries, will be given preference in the qualifier as they are the best bets according to the WFI. The WFI’s decision also means Jitender will compete in 74kg freestyle in the qualifier thus shutting the door on two-time Olympic medallist Sushil Kumar, though for a time being. He can end Sushil’s hopes permanently if he reaches final in the qualifier.