IOA’S AD-HOC PANEL PLANS TRIALS FOR ASIAN CHAMPIONSHIPS FROM MAY 17
Star wrestlers Bajrang Punia and Vinesh Phogat hit the mat on Monday for the first time in 15 days to be ready for the Asian Games trials even as IOA’s ad-hoc panel set the ball rolling for resumption of activities by finalising dates for the Asian Championships (U17, 23) trials.
Sparring was out of question for these top wrestlers after they resumed their sit-in protest at Jantar Mantar, demanding the arrest of Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, who they have accused of sexual exploitation of women wrestlers.
Bajrang and Vinesh have not competed in any international tournament since January and have not gone for training abroad though the Sports Authority of India (SAI) had cleared their training-cum-exposure stints on their request.
Till recently, they were adamant that unless their demands are met they won’t train or compete in international tournaments. In the last fortnight, they had two light training sessions at Jantar Mantar only. However, Vinesh on Sunday had said they will resume training and won’t shun tournaments anymore.
In the one-hour session at a nearby stadium, Bajrang had Jitender Kinha as his sparring partner while Vinesh trained with her cousin Sangeeta and Rio Olympics bronze medallist Sakshi Malik.
Satyawart Kadian trained with his brother Sombir.
“The last time we did mat training was a day before the resumption of this protest. And you have seen how busy we were in meeting supporters in the last 15 days. The discussions were happening even late in the night, training was not possible. But now, we will do mat training consistently,” said a wrestler who was part of the training session.
“We had light training today as we followed techniques. Gradually, we will start strength and endurance training as well. We are hoping that a proper resolution will come and by that time we want to be ready for the Asian Games trials. We also want to compete in the upcoming Ranking Series tournament,” he added.
However, the team for the UWW Ranking Series event, scheduled to be held in Bishkek from June 1-4 has already been decided. It’s more or less the same team that had competed at the Asian Championships in Astana in April and won 14 medals.
Bajrang, Vinesh, Sakshi, Satyawart and Sangeeta were not a part of the Indian team in Astana as they were protesting.
IOA’s ad-hoc panel meets for the first time
The ad-hoc panel, formed by the IOA to run the WFI’s day-to-day activities had discussions with coaches and SAI officials.
Ad-hoc committee member, national shooting coach Suma Shirur did not attend the meeting and another panel member Bhupendra Singh Bajwa discussed the roadmap with the coaches.
Keeping in mind the Asian Championships for Under-17 and Under-23 wresters, to be held in Bishkek from June 10-18, the panel decided to hold trials from May 17-19 at the Indira Gandhi Stadium.
There were discussion on resuming the national camps for senior wrestlers but SAI will take a final call. “There was no issue with regards to the men’s national camp and a date will soon be finalised by the SAI, but the women wrestlers are not keen to join the camp in Lucknow. They want the camp to be held in Delhi at the IG Stadium but accommodation is an issue there,” said an IOA source.
“The SAI officials are discussing it and will finalise the dates and venue for the camp soon,” the sources added.
Farmers reach protest site in good numbers
In the morning, farmers from Punjab and khap members from Haryana reached the protest site to extend their support to the wrestlers. They even brought down the barricades to enter the site.
It looked more like a farmers’ protest than a wresters’ agitation. In the evening, labourers were seen welding the barricades to ensure the farmers do not breach the cordon, like they did on Monday morning.