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Wrestling: Date set for trials for Worlds; no exemption to be given

Source: PTI
Last updated on: August 14, 2023 20:01 IST
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IMAGE: Unlike Asian Games trials where Bajrang Punia and Vinesh Phogat were handed out exemptions, no wrestler will be exempted from the World Championships trials. Photograph: Adnan Abidi/Reuters

The trials for the wrestling World Championships will be held on August 25-26 in Patiala, the ad-hoc panel announced on Monday, ending weeks of uncertainty around the selection competition but the participation of Bajrang Punia and Vinesh Phogat is not yet confirmed.

The exemption given to Punia and Vinesh from the Asian Games trials had created a huge furore with majority of the wrestling fraternity criticising the decision taken by the ad-hoc panel.

The IOA-appointed committee has decided not to give exemption to any wrestler for the Worlds trials, rather it is irritated that neither Bajrang nor Vinesh has confirmed participation.


An ad-hoc panel member, on conditions of anonymity, told PTI that if these two wrestlers do not want to compete, then there is no real need to hold trials in all six Olympic weight-categories because the wrestlers have already been tested through the Asian Games trials.

The wrestlers have already complained that they were being asked to appear in the trials twice in a short period, saying it takes a toll on their health and could lead to injuries.

"Bajrang and Vinesh are not giving us any clarity if they will compete in the Worlds trials. And if they do not want to compete then we do not need to hold trials for six Olympic weight classes again. We just then need to hold trials in four non-Olympic weights," said the panel member.

"After getting a favourable order from the High Court for their Asian Games participation without trials, they feel their place in the Indian squad is secured. (But) we really want them to compete (in the Worlds trials) and prove themselves."

Antim Panghal (53kg) and Sujit Kalkal (65kg) had moved the High Court against the trial exemption given to Bajrang and Vinesh but their petition was dismissed.

Bajrang and Vinesh did not take calls or respond to messages.

The World Championships, scheduled to commence on September 16, will serve as the first qualifying event for the 2024 Paris Olympics.

According to the criteria mentioned for shortlisting of athletes for the Worlds, the ad-hoc panel said, "Medallists and participants of all international/ ranking/ Asian/ World Championships/ Commonwealth Games held in 2022 and 2023 and participants of 2022 Tokyo Olympic Games (will have to appear for trials in order to get selected selected for the Worlds)."

The dates for sending entries by names for the Worlds close on August 16 but United World Wrestling (UWW) has in principle accepted India's request to extend the deadline because of the uncertainty surrounding the WFI elections.

"Since this is an Olympic qualification tournament, we couldn't have delayed the trials any further as India's entries would have been rejected," the ad-hoc panel head Bhupender Singh Bajwa told PTI.

Initially the ad-hoc panel had decided to hold the trials on August 10 and send a notification regarding that to the state association before August 3.

But, later, the panel decided the newly-elected WFI governing body should take a call on the trials as it would get elected on August 12, leaving the elected governing body members plenty of time to conduct the exercise and send the entries to UWW.

But after the Punjab and Haryana High Court stayed the much-anticipated WFI elections on the eve of the polls (August 11) and adjourned the matter to August 28, a question mark hung over the wrestlers' participation in the Worlds, leaving the ad-hoc panel to take the important decision to conduct the trials.

"The weigh-in would be held on same dates of the Selection Trials at 7.00 hrs. at SAI Centre, NS NIS, Patiala and two kg weight tolerance will be allowed in all weight categories," said the statement.

"Trials will be held in the following categories -- Freestyle: 57kg, 61kg, 65kg, 70kg, 74kg, 79kg, 86kg, 92kg, 97kg and 125kg. Greco-roman -- 55kg, 60kg, 63kg, 67kg, 72kg, 77kg, 82kg, 87kg, 97kg and 130kg. Women's wrestling: 50kg, 53kg, 55Kgk, 57Kgk, 59Kgk, 62Kgk, 65Kgk, 68Kg, 72kg and & 76kg."

Format of the trials

The ad-hoc panel said that, if less than eight wrestlers are eligible for trials in a weight category, Nordic system will be applied.

Under the Nordic system, the wrestlers fight each other in a round-robin format. After the matches are over, the wrestlers are ranked according to the number of victories. The top three win medals.

"If eight or more wrestlers are eligible in a weight category, direct elimination format will be conducted," said the ad-hoc panel statement.

The panel also said that it may apply "seeding system" during the trials.

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