India will pin their hopes on Sandeep Singh Mann and Sonam Malik when the Asian wrestling Olympic qualifiers begin at the Baluan Sholak Palace of Culture and Sports in Almaty, Kazakhstan on Friday.
The continental event is the penultimate opportunity for Indian wrestlers to earn an Olympic quota for Tokyo 2020. The world qualifiers from May 6-9 will be their final chance.
Hopes on national champion Sandeep Singh Mann
At the Asian qualifiers, newly crowned national champion in the 74kg freestyle category Sandeep Singh Mann will take centrestage.
The 21-year-old from Punjab won the senior nationals earlier this year and was also on top of his game at the national trials. Sandeep’s wins over world championships medallist Narsingh Yadav and former Asian champion Amit Dhankar helped him make the Indian team for the Asian qualifiers.
At the Asian meet, Sandeep Singh Mann’s biggest challenge will come from the two-time world championships medallist Bekzod Abdurakhmonov of Uzbekistan.
Also in the mix are the 2012 London Olympian Lee Seung-chul and the 2018 Asian Games bronze medallist Gong Byung-min.
Sonam Malik to lead India’s challenge in women’s wrestling
The young Sonam Malik also had a terrific run in the domestic circuit.
At the Almaty event, Sonam will have to watch out for the two-time Asian Championships medallist and local hope Ayaulym Kassymova, former world champion Sükhee Tserenchimed of Mongolia and Uzbekistan’s Nabira Esenbaeva.
Meanwhile, the 50kg category will see the grapplers divided into two groups with the group winners earning the Olympic quotas.
Opportunities for Greco-Roman wrestlers
Leading the Indian challenge in Greco-Roman wrestling will be Gurpreet Singh (77kg) and Sunil Kumar (87kg).
Indian wrestling squad for Asian Olympic Qualifiers
Men’s Freestyle: Sandeep Singh Mann (74kg), Satyawart Kadian (97kg) and Sumit Malik (125kg)
Greco-Roman: Gyaneder (60kg), Ashu (67kg), Gurpreet Singh (77kg), Sunil Kumar (87kg), Ravi (97kg) and Naveen (130kg).
Women: Seema Bisla (50kg), Anshu Malik (57kg), Sonam Malik (62kg), Nisha Dahiya (68kg), Pooja Sihag (76kg).
Asian wrestling Olympic qualifiers schedule and live India start times
(GR = Greco-Roman, WW = Women’s Wrestling, FS = Freestyle Wrestling)
All times are Indian Standard Time (IST)
Friday, April 9
Qualification rounds (GR – 60, 67, 77, 87, 97, 130kg) - 10:30 AM IST - 12:30 PM IST
Semi-finals (GR – 60, 67, 77, 87, 97, 130kg) - 12:30 PM IST - 1:30 PM IST
Repechages (GR – 60, 67, 77, 87, 97, 130kg) - 1:30 PM IST - 2:00 PM IST
Finals (GR – 60, 67, 77, 87, 97, 130kg) - 5:30 PM IST - 8:30 PM IST
Saturday, April 10
Qualification rounds (WW – 50, 53, 57, 62, 68, 76kg) - 10:30 AM IST - 12:30 AM IST
Semi-finals (WW – 50, 53, 57, 62, 68, 76kg) - 12:30 PM IST - 1:30 PM IST
Repechages (WW – 50, 53, 57, 62, 68, 76kg) - 1:30 PM IST - 2:00 PM IST
Finals (WW – 50, 53, 57, 62, 68, 76kg) - 5:30 PM IST - 8:30 PM IST
Sunday, April 11
Qualification rounds (FS - 57, 65, 74, 86, 97, 125kg) - 10:00 AM IST - 12:30 AM IST
Semi-finals (FS - 57, 65, 74, 86, 97, 125kg) - 12:30 PM IST - 1:30 PM IST
Repechages (FS - 57, 65, 74, 86, 97, 125kg) - 1:30 PM IST - 2:00 PM IST
Finals (FS - 57, 65, 74, 86, 97, 125kg) - 5:30 PM IST - 8:30 PM IST
Where to watch the Asian wrestling Olympic qualifiers live in India?
Live streaming of the Asian wrestling Olympic qualifiers will be available on wrestlingtv.in.
There will be no telecast of the event on any TV channel in India.