India’s Jasleen Saini, Shushila Devi to fight for Tokyo spot at World Judo Championships

With just one continental spot for the Olympics up for grabs for Indian judokas, the two best-ranked players have been picked for the event.

By Rahul Venkat
Picture by 2016 Getty Images

Shushila Devi Likmabam and Jasleen Singh Saini will be India’s representatives at the World Judo Championships 2021 starting on June 6 in Budapest, Hungary.

The World Judo Championships is the final event that will offer Olympic ranking points before the Summer Games begin on July 23 in Tokyo.

The qualification rules state that the top 18 ranked judokas in the world across weight categories, as of June 28, 2021, will earn a direct spot to the Tokyo Olympics.

Apart from the top 18, a continental ranking list will be prepared and the highest-ranked players on the list will be handed an Olympics spot, subject to one judoka from each country.

There are no Indians in the top-18 in any weight category and only one can make the Tokyo Olympics through the continental quota.

Shushila Devi, world No. 45 in the women’s 48kg and Jasleen Singh Saini, world No. 61 in the men’s 66kg, are currently India’s two-highest ranked judokas across weight categories.

As a result, the two have been selected in the Indian squad for the World Judo Championships, giving them the best chance to boost their ranking points.

As things stand, Shushila Devi (989 points) holds the continental quota for India at the upcoming Olympics. However, if Jasleen Singh Saini (920 points) progresses further than Shushila Devi and ends up with more points by the end of the tournament, he will represent India at the Games.

Rio 2016 Olympian Avtar Singh (men’s -100kg), Tulika Maan (women’s +78kg) and Vijay Kumar (men’s 60kg) could also have been in contention. 

However, they lost out on crucial ranking points after the Indian contingent were forced to withdraw from the Asia-Oceania Judo Championships in April after two judokas tested COVID-positive.

More than 700 judokas from 133 countries will take part in the World Judo Championships.