CHENNAI: In a big diversion from the previous plan, India’s Olympic bound wrestlers sans Bajrang Punia (65kg) and Sonam Malik (62kg) are now expected to compete in the Poland Ranking Series in Warsaw and camp there for a week before returning to the country. Earlier, the grapplers were scheduled to fly to Hungary for a short camp after the event and compete in the Yasar Dogu meet in Istanbul. A week long camp in Turkey was also planned.
“There is a tweak in the plan because of travel restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic. We will submit visa applications on May 30 for the Poland trip. Hopefully, we will get the visas in a few days. As of now, the plan to visit Hungary and Turkey for a camp and tournament has been dropped,” a source from the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI), told this daily.
The Poland Ranking Series is scheduled from June 8 to 13 while the Turkey event is slated from June 25 to 27. “Yasar Dogu is unlikely this year due to the pandemic and subsequent restrictions imposed in the country to contain the spread of the virus,” added the source. However, the world body, United World Wrestling, has not yet confirmed the cancellation of the event.
As many as eight Indian wrestlers have qualified for the Games. All of them except Vinesh (53kg) are in the country at the moment. Vinesh, who is currently training in Hungary, is expected to join the team for the event. She, however, will continue to train abroad before flying to Tokyo for the Olympics.
Russia trip for Bajrang
As reported by this daily, Bajrang is planning a training-cum-competition tour to Russia ahead of the Games. “I will not compete in Poland. Instead, I am looking for a training-cum-competition stint in Russia. If possible, I will head for the Games from there,” said Bajrang.
His coach Shako Bentinidis confirmed that they have started the process to procure the visas. “He will train in Vladikavkaz and compete in the Ali Aliev Memorial scheduled in Kaspiysk from June 25 to 27. Bajrang won 65kg gold there in 2019 and it will be a good opportunity to assess his progress,” said Shako.
Meanwhile, Sonam Malik, who made the Olympic cut by winning silver in the Asian qualifier, has decided to give the Polish event a miss to recover fully from the knee injury she sustained during the qualifying tournament. “She has recovered 85 per cent but we don’t want her to take a risk especially with the Olympics only a few days ago,” said father Rajinder Malik.