CHENNAI: Wrestlers Ravi Dahiya (57kg), Bajrang Punia (65kg) and Deepak Punia (86kg) will train overseas for the upcoming World Championships scheduled in Belgrade, Serbia from September 10 to 18.
It is learnt that Ravi along with his two sparring partners and a physiotherapist has left for Russia and will join the Indian squad directly in Serbia. The duo of Bajrang and Deepak will leave for the USA soon. They will train at Michigan University, where they had trained ahead of the 2022 Commonwealth Games. Given the visa restrictions in the USA, the duo, however, would not be accompanied by their respective sparring partners, said sources.
The training camp abroad also meant the trio was given exemption from the mandatory selection trials to be organised by the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) to pick the teams in all three styles (men's freestyle, women's wrestling and Greco-Roman) for the Worlds.
"Ravi has already left for Russia while Bajrang and Deepak will fly for the USA soon. They don't have to compete in the trials as they had already attended a couple of them in the past. Anyways, the next best wrestler in their respective weight categories are no match for them at the moment so the WFI has decided to give them a direct entry in the team for the Worlds," a WFI official told this daily. The trio had won a gold each in their respective weight categories in the recently-concluded CWG.
The official, however, affirmed that other wrestlers including the elite women grapplers have to compete in the trials if they wish to confirm their place in the squad. "The women's trials will be held in Lucknow while the trials for the men wrestlers will be held in New Delhi on August 29 and 30 respectively," he added.
Although all 12 Indian wrestlers medalled at the CWG, the WFI president was not impressed with the show. The Indian wrestlers bagged six gold, one silver and five bronze in the event. Expecting gold in double figures, the WFI president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh asserted that the below-par show means the federation may propose a change in selection policy during the annual general meeting scheduled in Rohtak, Haryana on August 25.
"Wrestlers hardly face any competitions at the CWG. Wrestlers from only a couple of countries pose a real threat to their Indian counterparts at the event. And why should not we expect gold from everyone? We are doing everything which is possible. The Indian wrestlers are getting an opportunity to compete in almost every international tournament. Only the USA gives such opportunity to its wrestlers but there the grapplers are not rewarded with cash prizes on winning medals," the WFI president had told this daily.