Trial & error: Olympics medallists Bajrang, Ravi lose in trials for Paris Games qualifiers : The Tribune India

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Trial & error: Olympics medallists Bajrang, Ravi lose in trials for Paris Games qualifiers

Trial & error: Olympics medallists Bajrang, Ravi lose in trials for Paris Games qualifiers

Bajrang Punia (in pic) and Ravi Dahiya had won bronze and silver, respectively, at the Tokyo Games. File



Sonepat, March 10

Tokyo Olympics medallists Bajrang Punia and Ravi Dahiya lost their respective bouts in the selection trials for the Asian Olympics qualifiers here today.

Punia, who was a prominent face of the protest against former WFI president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, suffered a crushing 1-9 defeat in the men’s freestyle 65kg semifinal against Rohit Kumar.

This was after he barely managed to win against Ravinder (3-3 on criteria) in the opening round. If Ravinder had not conceded a caution point in the bout, Punia would have been eliminated in the opening bout itself.

Bajrang Punia and Ravi Dahiya (in pic) had won bronze and silver, respectively, at the Tokyo Games. File

Punia had trained in Russia to prepare for the trials, which are being organised by the IOA ad hoc panel. Punia though won a case in the Delhi High Court after contending that the suspended Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) had no authority to conduct trials.

He left the Sports Authority of India centre here in a huff after being eliminated. The National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) officials tried to collect a sample for a dope test from Punia but he did not stay back even for the third-place bout.

As fate would have it, it will be Sujeet Kalakal who will now strive to earn qualification in the 65kg for the Paris Games after winning a spot in the Indian team. Sujeet had lost a legal case against Punia when he had challenged his direct entry for the Hangzhou Asian Games. Sujeet beat Rohit by technical superiority in the final.

“We have always done well in 65kg and Bajrang won an Olympics medal so it is a big responsibility for me to go and win a quota place for the country,” Sujit said.

Rohit will now represent India at the Asian Championships. The winners at the trials will get the opportunity to compete at the qualifiers in Bishkek on April 19-21.

The men’s 57kg, being organised in the Nordic format, was always a tough category since both Tokyo Games silver medallist Dahiya and star-in-making Aman Sehrawat were in contention.

Dahiya, who is making a comeback from an injury, lost a high-scoring opening bout 13-14 to Aman. Both of them train at Chhatarsal Stadium.

Aman has made a name for himself after winning medals at almost all tournaments in 2023 when Dahiya did not compete. Aman, the Asian Games bronze medallist, staved off a last-minute push from Dahiya to win the close bout. Dahiya lost the next bout to U20 Asian champion Udit to be eliminated. Aman will represent India at the Olympics qualifiers.

“Competing against Ravi is always tough but I prepared well for this tournament and worked on my game. I prepared in Russia for one month and that has helped me,” Aman said.

India have so far earned only one quota for the Paris Games through Antim Panghal (women’s 53kg).

Other wrestlers to win the trials were Jaideep (74kg), Deepak Punia (86kg), Deepak Nehra (97kg) and Sumit Malik (125kg). — PTI

Not out of contention?

Even though Ravi Dahiya and Bajrang Punia lost in the trials, they are technically not out of the running for the Paris Olympics. The continental qualifiers will be followed by the world Olympics qualifiers in Istanbul on May 9-12. Also, there is no clarity about India’s Olympics selection policy as the WFI is still undecided whether to follow the old policy of sending the wrestler who won the quota or to hold trials before the Games.

#Bajrang Punia #Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh #Sonepat


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