Vinesh clears way for Antim Panghal's inclusion
Vinesh Phogat, who was given direct entry to the Asian Games, on Tuesday announced that she won't be able to compete at the quadrennial extravaganza in Hangzhou because of a knee injury, clearing the way for reserve Antim Panghal's inclusion in the squad.
Vinesh, who won a gold medal in the 2018 edition of the Games, said on X, formerly Twitter, that she suffered the injury on August 13 and will undergo a surgery on August 17 in Mumbai.
The development means that she will also miss next month's Olympic-qualifying World Championship, the trials for which are scheduled to be held on August 25-26 in Patiala.
"I wanted to share an extremely sad piece of news. A couple of days ago on 13th August 2023, I injured my left knee in training. After doing the scans and examinations, the doctor has said that unfortunately, surgery is the only option for me to recover," Phogat wrote.
"I will be undergoing surgery on 17th August in Mumbai. It was my dream to retain my Asian Games gold medal for India which I won in 2018 in Jakarta. But unfortunately, this injury has ruled out my participation now."
Panghal and Sujit Kalkal had dragged Vinesh and Bajrang Punia to court, challenging the direct entries handed to them for the Games but the High Court had dismissed their petition.
Panghal had won the 53kg trial while Vishal Kaliraman emerged winner in the 65kg category. Both of them were named as reserve players for the Games.
The exemption from the Asian Games trials given to Vinesh and Punia had created a huge controversy as the wrestling fraternity criticised the decision made by the ad-hoc panel, currently running the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI).
However, as luck would have it, the 28-year-old Vinesh would not be part of the sporting action in Hangzhou, starting September 23.
The Khap Panchayat held in Sisai village of Haryana had recently favoured the inclusion of Panghal and Kaliraman in the Indian squad.
Vinesh also said that she has informed all concerned authorities so that the reserve player can be sent to the Asian Games.
The 19-year-old Panghal, who is in Jordan to compete in the U-20 World Championship, will now represent India in the women's 53kg category.
"I would like to request all the fans to continue supporting me so that I can make a strong comeback on the mat soon and prepare for the Paris 2024 Olympics. Your support gives me a slot of strength," Vinesh wrote, concluding her statement.
It has been learnt that Punia has resumed his training. On Tuesday, he practised at Navy's Raipur training centre in Sonepat.