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WFI exempts Olympic quota winners from trials but will assess them in Hungary

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New Delhi, May 21 (PTI) The Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) on Tuesday decided to exempt all six Olympic quota winners from selection trials but their form and fitness will be assessed at the upcoming Ranking Series event and the subsequent training camp in Hungary.

The WFI said the decision to not hold trials has been taken under peculiar circumstances and should not be used as a precedent in future.

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The WFI also made it clear that if any wrestler is found to be lacking in fitness, the federation would consider a replacement through trials before July 8, the deadline for sending entries.

India have got six quotas for the Paris Games where Aman Sehrawat (57kg) will be the lone male wrestler in fray from the country.

Vinesh Phogat (50kg), Antim Panghal (53kg), Anshu Malik (57kg), Nisha Dahiya (68kg) and Reetika Hooda (76kg) are the women wrestlers who have qualified.

The wrestlers had requested the WFI not to hold trials, arguing that it could lead to injuries and the selection committee, led by President Sanjay Singh, accepted the plea.

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“We discussed the issue and both chief coaches were also of the view that trials could lead to injuries and impact India’s medal chances. So we have decided not to hold trials,” Sanjay Sngh told PTI after the meeting.

The quota winners will compete in a UWW Ranking Series in Budapest from June 6-9 and will also participate in a training camp after the conclusion of the tournament from June 10-21.

“We have to ensure that no wrestler carries any injury into the Olympics. So, instead of trials, the Indian coaches will assess the quota winners at the Ranking Series event and at the following training camp in Budapest.

“If the coaches find that someone is not fit, we may then look for a replacement in that particular category. We will hold selection trial before July 8 in that weight class,” the president added.

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The WFI decision has shut the Paris Olympic door on Tokyo Games silver medallist Ravi Dahiya (men’s 57kg) and World Championship bronze winner Sarita Mor in women’s (57kg), who were preparing for trials.

It also means that Vinesh Phogat will now have to compete in women’s 50kg event only. She had the chance to compete in 53kg also if she defeated Antim in trials.

Women’s head coach Virender Dahiya and freestyle head coach Jagmander Singh also attended the selection committee meeting.

London Olympic bronze medallist Yogeshwar Dutt, former wrestler Geetika Jakhar, WFI vice-president and Olympian Jai Prakash, WFI treasurer Sandeep Deshwal also attended the meeting. Geetika attended the meeting through video call.

The WFI has also made it clear that the exemption from trials is a one-off thing and should not be used as a precedent in future.

“It was unanimously decided by the selection committee that all the quota earning wrestlers have been exempted from the selection trials for 2024 Paris Olympic Games only as a one-time exception in current peculiar circumstances, but this decision will not be applicable for any other future selection criteria for which the WFI Regulations for Selection of Wrestlers for participation in the National Coaching Camp/International Competitions should be followed,” the minutes of the meeting read.

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