WFI exempts four wrestlers from trials

WFI exempts four wrestlers from trials

Sushil Kumar

The Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) has decided to exempt four wrestlers -- Sushil Kumar (74kg), Bajrang Punia (65 kg), Sakshi Malik (62 kg) and Vinesh Phogat (52 kg) -- from attending the Asian Games trials.

The trials for men (freestyle and Greco-Roman) are scheduled on June 9 at Sonepat and women on June 10 at Lucknow. The four have, therefore, automatically booked their spots for the Asiad, beginning on August 18 in Jakarta.

The WFI assistant secretary Vinod Tomar referred to the past performances of these wrestlers as the reason for exemption. Two-time Olympic medallist Sushil, Bajrang and Vinesh had returned with gold medals from the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. Sakshi, the 2016 Olympic bronze medallist, had settled for bronze.

“All four are unrivalled in their weight categories and are medal contenders. We didn't want to disturb their training. So we have decided to select them straightaway for the Asian Games,” Tomar told DH.

The other wrestlers, however, will have to fight their way through the trials. Tomar assured the move wouldn't spark any bad blood among the grapplers.

He also informed Parveen Rana, who was involved in an ugly spat with Sushil during the recent Commonwealth Games trials, is injured. “He wrote to us some 10 days back saying he is yet to recover from injury,” Tomar said.

“There is no Narsingh Yadav also. Sushil is a world-class champion and all his recent trials have been one-sided. He has assured us he would return with a medal from Asian Games. We have to respect his decision. There should be no problem this time.”