CHENNAI: Wrestler Sangeeta Phogat wanted to compete in the trials held to pick the Indian team for the Asian Olympic Qualifier earlier this year. She put the plan on hold after consulting her husband Bajrang Punia. The reason was she hasn’t regained complete fitness after undergoing surgeries in both her knees.
Five months later, she finally took the mat at the IG Stadium in New Delhi for selection trials held on Tuesday to pick the national team for the World Championships. The wait paid reward as she registered comprehensive victories to book her slot for the worlds scheduled in Oslo, Norway from October 2 to 10.
“She wanted to compete in 57kg trials then to check if she can make an Olympic cut. However, we decided to wait a bit longer as she wasn’t completely fit. A loss there could have demoralised her as it’s always difficult to make a comeback after a long hiatus. She competed last in 2018 so we don’t want to take any chance,” Bajrang, the Tokyo Olympics bronze medallist, who was at Sangeeta’s coach corner, told this daily.
The youngest among Phogat sisters, Sangeeta last competed in 59kg in the Asian Championships in 2018. However, she changed the weight category on her return. “Competing in an Olympic weight division makes sense,” said Bajrang.
Sangeeta now wants to focus on the upcoming event before preparing for the big events like Commonwealth Games and Asian Games next year. “We train together and his (Bajrang) tips proved useful,” said Sangeeta, who beat Sanju Devi by technical superiority before overpowering Manisha 9-5 in the final. Manisha had earlier knocked out 2016 Rio bronze medallist Sakshi Malik. While Sangeeta bossed in her category, her cousin Vinesh Phogat withdrew from the second bout on medical ground. Competing in 55kg, she won 5-0 against Anju but didn’t turn up for the second bout against Pinki, who eventually qualified for the worlds.
Trials in a few weight categories (63kg/GR, 82kg/GR, 92kg/FS and 76kg/WW) will be held next week as only one wrestler turned up in each division.
Private sponsors’ details
As was instructed while announcing the date for trials, the Wrestling Federation of India asked wrestlers to submit details of their contracts with private sponsors before taking part in trials. With none of the wrestlers possessing the sought details, the WFI asked them to sign an undertaking each that they will submit later.
Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, WFI chief, had told this daily that the federation should be kept in the loop by private sponsors and there should be no clash with prime sponsors like TATA Motors and the Uttar Pradesh government.
Freestyle (FS): 57kg Shubham, 61kg Ravinder, 65kg Rohit, 70kg Sushil, 74kg Yash, 79kg Gaurav Baliyan, 86kg Sandeep Singh, 97kg Satyawart Kadian, 125kg Anirudh.
Greco Roman (GR): 55kg Sandeep, 60kg Gyanender, 67kg Gaurav Duhan, 77kg Sajan, 87kg Sunil Kumar, 97kg Ravi, 130kg Naveen Kumar.
Women Wrestling (WW): 50kg Hanny Kumari, 53kg Pooja Jatt, 55kg Pinki, 57kg Anshu, 59kg Sarita, 62kg Sangeeta, 65kg Bhateri, 68kg Ritu Malik, 72kg Divya Kakran.