An exemption from Asian Games selection trials for Tokyo Olympics silver medallist Ravi Dahiya, Tokyo Olympics bronze medallist Bajrang Punia and World Championship bronze medallist Vinesh Phogat will be one of the options when the ad-hoc committee in charge of wrestling meets on Thursday to finalise the participation criteria.
The committee on Wednesday decided to conduct the much-awaited trials on July 22 and 23 but there is still no clarity over the participation of the protesting wrestlers, who are currently training abroad.
An ad-hoc committee member said the Wrestling Federation of India’s selection policy gives ‘icon’ players some leeway for the trials. Apart from winning Olympic and world medals, Bajrang and Vinesh are also the reigning Asian Games gold medallists in their weight class.
If this idea does not find many takers, Bajrang and Vinesh, along with Sakshi Malik, might either have to cut short their training stint abroad and return to India nearly two weeks before they planned. Or, they can hope that since their name already features in the long list as reserves, the second stage of the trials will be held in August.
A final decision on the issue is likely to be taken on Thursday. The Asian Games are scheduled to be held in Hangzhou, China, from September 23 to October 8, with the wrestling bouts beginning on October 4.
An ad-hoc committee source said the women’s and Greco-Roman trials will be held on July 22 while the men’s freestyle category will be held on the 23rd in New Delhi.
It is learnt that the national championship and ranking series medallists along with the first and second-place finishers of the under-18 and under-23 nationals will be eligible to compete in the trials.
The decision was taken after the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) announced last weekend that they had granted a one-week extension to the IOA for sending the final list of wrestlers who will compete in the Asian Games. The original deadline to send entries is July 15.
It is learnt that the ad-hoc committee members have reached out to the wrestlers, asking them to confirm their availability for the Asian Games trials.
In case they won’t be fit enough by next weekend to compete in the Asian Games trials, they could be given the option to take part in the trials for September’s World Championships, which will be the first Olympic-qualifying event. The deadline to submit entry lists for the World Championship is August 15.
Bajrang is currently in Kyrgyzstan’s Issyk-Kul, where will be training till August 5. Vinesh is in Hungary, where she will compete in a Ranking Series event on Friday in the 55kg weight class instead of the 53kg category in which she normally competes. As per her original plan, Vinesh is scheduled to return at the end of this month. Sakshi, meanwhile, is training in the USA.
The wrestlers have been away from the mat for a major part of the year owing to the protests against Brij Bhushan, accusing him of sexual harassment and criminal intimidation.
The Delhi Police has filed a chargesheet against Brij Bhushan and he has been summoned for hearing by a Delhi Court on July 18.