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New wrestling selection policy has its pros and cons: Yogeshwar

November 26, 2023 17:04 IST

IMAGE: Yogeshwar Dutt said the rules were made by the federation and they have to respect it. Photograph: Tim Wimborne/Reuters

Celebrated Indian grappler Yogeshwar Dutt neither praised nor criticised the new selection policy of the IOA-constituted ad-hoc panel for wrestling, which states that Olympic quota winners will have to compete against a challenger to book a ticket to the Paris Games.

As per the new policy, the wrestling squad for the Paris Olympics will be finalised through a two-step selection process, where the grapplers, who have earned quota places for the country, will compete against a challenger on June 1 and the winner will represent India in the quadrennial showpiece.

Dutt said it is the prerogative of the officials running the sport in the country to decide the selection policy.


"Earlier, the wrestlers who used to qualify went on to compete in the Olympics. As per the current selection policy, Antim (Panghal) who has secured an Olympic quota is not assured (of a Paris berth)... she has to go through one trial," Dutt told PTI on the sidelines of the launch of the mascot and logo for the Khelo India Para Games to be held in New Delhi from December 10 to 17.

"Till date, no trials had happened, I am speaking of our times. Whoever won the quota went on to represent the country in the Olympics. But it is a rule made by the federation and we have to respect it."

"It is the prerogative of the federation to make the rules and amend them."

So far only Antim Panghal, the world championships bronze medallist in 53kg category, has earned a quota place for the country and she too will have to compete against a challenger on June 1 to know whether she will go to Paris or not.

Antim could end up competing against arch-rival Vinesh Phogat for the Paris berth if the 2018 Asian Games gold medallist emerges a "challenger", which will be determined on May 31.

The IOA constituted ad-hoc committee had stated in a statement on Saturday that all the challengers will be determined on May 31 and the "wrestle-off" between the "Challenger" and Olympic quota winner will take place on June 1.

Yogeshwar said the new selection policy could be good or bad, depending upon how one takes it.

"There are two sides to this policy. First is, whoever has earned the quota can prepare (for the Olympics) with a free mind. But, there is a positive and a negative aspect to it".

"If they know they have to go through the trials, they will keep thinking about it and look to prepare anqualify.

"The competition has increased now. Sushil (Kumar) played three Olympics, I played four Olympics because there was no competitor in our categories. But now, several wrestlers are coming up, they also need to get opportunities," said the 2012 London Olympics bronze medallist.

While only Antim has so far clinched an Olympic quota place for the country, more wrestlers are expected to earn slots for India in the two upcoming events -- the Asian Olympic Qualifier in Kyrgyzstan (April 19-21) and the World Olympic Qualifiers in Turkey (May 9-12).

India can earn 17 more Paris quota places in the two tournaments -- six each in men's free-style and greco-roman and five in the women's category.

All the future quota places winners too will have to compete against a challenger to secure a Paris spot.

World Championship bronze medallist in 2021, Sarita Mor refrained from speaking on the topic.

"I won't like to comment on this as I don't exactly know what is the new selection policy. I will speak only after I have the knowledge of it," she said.

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