Asian Games selection trials: Wrestler Antim Panghal wins on mat but loses in court

The ad-hoc panel's decision has not only affected Antim and Sujeet. Others in the weight categories too have to let go of their dreams to represent the country at the Asian Games.
Wrestler Antim Panghal (Photo | Antim Panghal Twitter)
Wrestler Antim Panghal (Photo | Antim Panghal Twitter)

CHENNAI: By then, Antim Panghal had won three bouts in the 53kg weight category to finish first in the ongoing Asian Games selection trials in New Delhi on Saturday. However, the moment she was informed about the Delhi High Court decision, she broke down.

The inconsolable 19-year-old wrestler along with Sujeet Kalkal, who competes in the 65kg men's freestyle, had earlier moved the court against the ad-hoc committee's decision to give exemption to Vinesh Phogat and Bajrang Punia from the trials.

The single bench of Justice Subramonium Prasad had rejected their writ petition thus upholding the ad-hoc panel's decision. It now means Antim, despite winning the trials, will be a standby for Vinesh in the Asian Games.
For Sujeet, it will remain the same as even if he wins the 65kg trials, he will be a substitute to Bajrang.
The trials in men's freestyle are scheduled on Sunday.
"What can we do now? The court has given the verdict," Ran Niwas, Antim's father, responded when queried about the decision. 
Though it was learnt that Antim's counsel will move the Supreme Court challenging the Delhi High Court's decision, the same could not be confirmed at the time of going to press.
The ad-hoc panel's decision has not only affected Antim and Sujeet. Others in the weight categories too have to let go of their dreams to represent the country at the Asian Games.
Vishal Kaliraman is one among them. He, along with fellow wrestlers had staged protests against the decision in the past.
"He will contest in the trials tomorrow (Sunday). What option does he have? The ad-hoc body today said only top four wrestlers from the six Olympic weight categories in the three styles would be eligible to take part in the World Championships trials scheduled next month. If Vishal skips the trials on Sunday, he wouldn't be eligible for Worlds trials. He has already missed out on an Asian Games berth and I would not suggest he lose out on a chance to stake his claim in the national squad for Worlds," Parveen Dahiya, chief coach at the iconic Chhatrasal Stadium where Vishal trains, told this daily.
Wrestlers from six Olympic weight categories in each style can only compete in the Asian Games. However, at the Worlds, wrestlers in all 10 weight categories compete in each style. Incidentally, the 2023 Worlds scheduled in Belgrade, Serbia in September is also the first qualifier for the 2024 Paris Olympics.
"Sujeet will participate in the trials. I haven't informed him about the court's decision but eventually, he will know about it. It's not time to give up. We moved the court but didn't get the respite but that doesn't mean Sujeet will stop contesting," Dayanand Kalkal, Sujeet's father-cum-coach, told this daily.
The only hope for these wrestlers rests on Vinesh and Bajrang's decision. If the duo, who have not spoken on the issue so far, decide to not compete in the Asian Games, then the top wrestler from their respective weight categories can compete at the Asian Games.
However, for that to happen, Bajrang and Vinesh have to communicate their decisions at least by Sunday as July 23 is the last date for sending wrestling entries to the Asian Games' Organising Committee.
Besides, the committee in the past has also said both Bajrang and Vinesh will compete against the winners of the selection trials next month to decide who will represent the country in the quadrennial event.
However, for that to happen, the Organising Committee has to accept the substitution request which in turn is approved only in extraordinary circumstances.

60kg: 1st Gyanender, 2nd Vikram Kurade; 67kg: 1st Neeraj, 2nd Ankit Gulia; 77kg: 1st Vikash, 2nd Karan; 87kg: 1st Sunil Kumar, 2nd Manoj Kumar; 97kg: 1st Narinder Cheema, 2nd Nitesh; 130kg: 1st Naveen, 2nd Pravesh.

Women's wrestling
50kg: 1st Pooja Gehlot, 2nd Nirmala; 53kg: 1st Antim, 2nd Manju; 57kg: 1st Mansi, 2nd Sito; 62kg: 1st Sonam Malik, 2nd Manisha; 68kg: 1st Radhika, 2nd Priyanka; 76kg: 1st Kiran, 2nd Divya.

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