Olympic medallists Sushil Kumar and Sakshi Malik, along with two others, are all set to compete in the upcoming Asian Games after being exempted from the trials scheduled next month, the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) said on Friday.
A WFI official confirmed to PTI that the federation has decided to let Sushil, Sakshi, Vinesh Phogat and Bajrang Punia prepare on their own and skip the trials after receiving requests from these wrestlers.
Although an official announcement in this regard is yet to be made, the official said the federation is of the view that these wrestlers have proved their credentials time and again and this decision has been taken considering the fact that they face no competition from others in their weight categories.
"The WFI has taken a decision in principle to let these wrestlers prepare on their own and not disturb them. On their requests, we have decided to let them skip the trials as they are best bets in their weight categories and hardly face any competition." - Senior WFI official to PTI
"Sushil has requested us to train at the Chatrasal Stadium under our coach Vinod. Vinesh and Sakshi are currently at the national camp, while Bajrang is in Georgia with his personal coach,” said the WFI official.
"The WFI has no objection because they face no competition in their weight categories. The WFI is only bothered about medals and we feel allowing them to skip the trials will reduce the pressure on them." - Senior WFI official to PTI
Although a formal decision is yet to be taken in this regard, the WFI official said it is more or less certain.
“We have taken this decision in consultation with our coaches who also feel that asking them to come for the trials will put extra pressure on them which we don't want. We at WFI feel they are our best bet in their respective weight categories and can bring medals for us,” the official said.
The WFI will hold the trials for the men’s categories – freestyle and Greco-Roman – on June 10 at the Sports Authority of India centre at Sonepat, where a training camp for both the categories is going on.
Similarly, the training camp for women wrestlers is being held at SAI, Lucknow, and the trials are expected to be held there on June 17.
The WFI official said all these wrestlers have already proved themselves at the Asian level with their exploits in the recent Asian Championships.
While defending champion Bajrang won a bronze in the 65kg category in the Adian Championships in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan in March this year, Vinesh settled for a silver in the 50kg division.
Sushil, however, skipped the Asian Championships in March but won gold at the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast while Sakshi won a bronze in the 65kg female category.
However, it will be easier said than done for the WFI to let these wrestlers skip the trials because of a 2014 Delhi High Court directive, which ordered sporting federations to conduct trials before any major tournaments.
Interestingly, it was two-time Olympic medallist Sushil, who took the WFI to court after the federation had decided not to hold a trial for the 74kg freestyle category in the run-up to the 2016 Olympics.
The WFI then decided to let Narsingh Yadav represent India at the Rio Olympics after he won a quota place for the country.
Asked about the matter, the official simply said: “The WFI's stand remains the same. That time Narsingh won the quota place and as per WFI rules whoever wins the quota place gets to represent the country. But in this situation Sushil doesn't have any competition and he is the best best in his weight category.”
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