State Associations May Be Allowed To Field Candidates Of Their Choice In Asian Games Trials

The Asian Games trials are expected to be held in the third week of June. The final date will be notified this week.

Wrestlers Vinesh Phogat and Sakshi Malik with supporters during their protest.

The ad-hoc panel of the IOA is likely to allow the state wrestling associations to field deserving candidates in the Asian Games trials even if they do not meet the criteria of being a medal winners in one of the stipulated tournaments as per the new selection policy for the quadrennial extravaganza. (More Wrestling News)

The Asian Games trials are expected to be held in the third week of June. The final date will be notified this week.

Postponed due to the COVID-19 last year, the Asian Games are set to unfold in the Chinese city of Hangzhou from September 23.

The WFI had last year devised a policy which allowed only the medal winners from the National Championships, the national ranking tournaments, Federation Cup and international tournaments, apart from talented juniors, to compete in the trials.

Ad-hoc panel member Bhupendra Singh Bajwa had initially suggested open trials but the coaches and referees advised them to restrict it to medal prospects only, according to IOA sources.

"It would have been very difficult to finish the trials in the stipulated time if open trials were conducted. It was proposed that if any state association feels it has a worthy candidate who does not meet the criteria of being a medallist, it can field such candidate in the Asian Games trials," the source told PTI.

"A final decision will be taken soon. The trials are expected to be held around June 20. A final date will be announced in a day or two," the source added.

WFI has 25 state units affiliated to it.

If all the state associations field candidates of their choice in each of the 10 categories in all three styles, the number of participants will rise considerably.

Bajwa, several wrestling coaches, referees and SAI officials attended the meeting on Monday.

It was the second such meeting meeting after the IOA formed the panel to manage day-to-day affairs of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI). Bajwa had held the first round of discussions with the relevant people in Meerut.

Protesting wrestlers will not be stopped from competing
Elite wrestlers Vinesh Phogat and Bajrang Punia, who are staging a sit-in protest against WFI chief Brij Bhushan Singh, will not be stopped from competing in the trials.

"In fact it was not even mentioned or discussed if there was any restriction on their participation in the wake of the protest. Mr Bajwa wanted to give every deserving candidate a fair chance to stake his claim for selection in the Indian team," said a source who was part of the meeting.

Sakshi Malik, another prominent face of the protest, though, will not be able to compete since her name did not figure in the long list that was sent by the WFI to the IOA.
Women wrestlers' parents not in favour of combined camp
Many women wrestlers are uncomfortable in joining the national camp at Lucknow SAI centre and many parents do not want the nodal sports body to hold a combined men's and women's camp in Sonepat.

"This combined national camp was discussed at the meeting. It was brought to the notice of the panel members that parents of women wrestlers were not in favour of their daughters training alongside the men's wrestlers in Sonepat," said the source.

"The parents fear that 'cases of love affairs' may rise if that happens. This was precisely the reason why the WFI had separated the two camps in 2013."

The women wrestlers are comfortable training at Delhi's IG stadium but it does not have a hostel to accommodate them. The SAI centre in Patiala does not have a wrestling hall as it was merged with the weightlifting hall.

"There is an option of holding the national camp for women in Gandhi Nagar (Gujarat) but it remains to be seen if the athletes agree to go that far," the source said.

"It was also proposed that the men's wresters be sent to Lucknow and the women train in Sonepat but the coaches and referees did not agree to that." The coaches had also suggested that a training camp be organised for the wrestlers who will compete at the UWW Ranking Series event in Bishkek from June 1-4.

Camp and trials for Juniors
The Asian Championships for Under-17 and Under-23 wresters will be held in Bishkek from June 10-18.

The ad-hoc panel decided to hold trials from May 17-19 at the Indira Gandhi Stadium to select the Indian team. The date for the junior national camp will be announced soon.