After Asian Games postponed, Wrestling Federation of India mulls over joint trials

The trials are scheduled to be held on May 16 and 17. The winners will make the cut for the Commonwealth Games in their respective weight divisions.

By Ali Asgar Nalwala
Picture by GETTY IMAGES

The Wrestling Federation of India’s  (WFI) plans to have joint trials for the Asian Games and Commonwealth Games (CWG) on May 16 and 17 may see some modification. This comes at the wake of the Asian Games being postponed due to COVID scare.

The Asian Games 2022 in Hangzhou were scheduled from September 10 to 25, a month after the conclusion of the Commonwealth Games on August 8 in Birmingham, UK. The continental Games have now been pushed to 2023 due to the rising COVID-19 cases in China.

The WFI had decided that the winners at the trials would travel to CWG and Asian Games while silver medallists will participate in the world championships, also scheduled in September.

"It (the joint trials) depends when the Asian Games will be held in 2023,” WFI's assistant secretary Vinod Tomar told Olympics.com. In case of a long gap, a joint trials may not make sense, he hinted.

“The WFI was notified about the postponement of the Games only today and the committee will decide if the trials for both Commonwealth and Asian Games should be held together or not. The final decision is expected to be announced earlier next week,” Vinod Tomar added.

No direct finals for Olympians at trials

Meanwhile, Tokyo Olympians Ravi Kumar Dahiya, Bajrang Punia, and Deepak Punia will not get direct entries at the trials. 

At the Asian wrestling championships 2022 trials conducted in March, the WFI had allowed the three Tokyo Olympians to directly play in the finals of their respective weight division to protect them from injuries.

This move did not go down well with other wrestlers who had to compete in multiple rounds for a place in the finals of their respective categories.

After the conclusion of the trials, the WFI had assured the wrestlers of a different format for the Asian Games and Commonwealth Games trials.

"All players will have to participate in the trials this time, the risk of injury (for the Tokyo Olympians) is there but it’s for all wrestlers," Tomar said.

"Whether the Olympians compete from the semi-final stage or the main draw will be decided by the committee before the trials begin," Tomar added.

In the finals of the Asian championships trials, Bajrang Punia, a Tokyo Olympics bronze medallist in 65kg, was almost beaten by Rohit while an exhausted Aman gave a walkover to Tokyo Olympics silver medallist Ravi Kumar Dahiya in the 57kg final.

Deepak Punia (86kg), meanwhile, got his way to the Asian championships after his match against an incensed Vinod ended abruptly.

At the Asian championships, Ravi Kumar Dahiya went on to win gold while Bajrang Punia and Deepak Punia had to settle for silver in their respective weight divisions.

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