Ritu Phogat in squad for World Wrestling Championship after Pinki fails to turn up for re-trial


New Delhi, September 18: Miffed with the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI), grappler Pinki on Tuesday (September 18) refused to turn up for the World Championship re-trial, paving the way for Ritu Phogat's selection in the 53kg category.

Pinki, who had a disappointing Asian Games but had won a gold medal at the Yasar Dogu International before heading to Jakarta, had actually booked a place for herself in the 53kg for both the Asian Games and the World Championship when the trials were held earlier in Lucknow.

However, the WFI decided to give Ritu, who competes in the 50kg category, a chance to compete in the 53kg since she had missed out on the Asian Games trials due to a flight issue. "Pinki says she was not required to appear in any trials because she had earned her berth through trials held in Lucknow. How come Ritu now comes into picture in the 53kg category? That's why she has refused to undergo trials," said a source close to Pinki, who hails from Rohtak.

When contacted, WFI Assistant Secretary Vinod Tomar said they decided to hold fresh trials in the interest of the country. "It has not been done to favour any particular wrestler. We have to see the country's best interest at the World Championships. Ritu had missed the Asian Games trials because of delay in her flight from Turkey. She had a good medal chance at the Asian Games too but missed out. And Pinki's performance in Jakarta was not encouraging," said Tomar.

Pinki had lost her 1/8 bout to Mongolia's Sumiya Erdnechimeg by technical superiority at the Asian Games. "And we did not give Ritu a direct entry for the Worlds. We asked her if she wants to give trials in 53kg, she said yes. We had informed Pinki too but this morning she refused to come for the trial, so we have recommended Ritu's name for the 53kg category," Tomar said.

Asked why Ritu was not asked to compete in 50kg trials, Tomar said the WFI did not want to "disturb" Vinesh Phogat because she had won gold at the Asian Games. National women's coach Kuldeep Malik said he expected Pinki to prove her strength against a wrestler from lower weight category. "If she does not want to bout against a wrestler, who is in a lower weight category, how will she compete at the Worlds with superior wrestlers," Malik said from Lucknow.

The trials were to be held under supervision of Malik. Struggling Sakshi Malik also appeared for the trials in the 62kg but her opponent Sarita Mor pulled out due to a knee injury. Geeta Phogat, meanwhile, replaced her injured sister Sangeeta in 59kg category. The World Wrestling Championships will be held in Budapest, Hungary from October 20 to 28.

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