With top Indian freestyle wrestlers Bajrang Punia and Ravi Dahiya missing out on the national selection trials for the Asian Wrestling Championships on Friday due to injury, the spotlight fell on some of the promising youngsters who will be shouldering Indian hopes.
Aman Sehrawat, who became the first Indian to win a gold medal at the U-23 World Championship last year, is one such youngster. The 18-year-old is in good form after picking up the bronze medal at the recent Zagreb Ranking Series event.
In Dahiya’s 57kg category, in which he won a Tokyo silver, Sehrawat impressed from the off. After winning a comfortable first bout, he overturned a 0-4 deficit against Atish Todkar of Maharashtra to prevail 14-4, showing good touch in an impressive showing.
The surprise of the day came in the 70kg category, where Mulayam Yadav of Uttar Pradesh, another junior World Championship medallist, defeated 2022 Commonwealth Games gold medallist Naveen Malik 7-4.
Among the promising crop of wrestlers that missed out were Sagar Jaglan and Sujeet. The latter missed out to fellow Haryana wrestler Anuj Kumar in the 65kg category, while Sagar was eliminated in the final playoff round of the 74kg category by Delhi’s Yash Tushir, who booked his flight to Astana, where the event will be held between April 7 to 15, by winning 8-3. Yash won the gold at the 2022 National Games, while Sagar is the wrestling nationals champion.
The event was initially meant to be held in New Delhi, but governing body United World Wrestling (UWW) moved it out of the country after the sports ministry appointed an Oversight Committee in charge of the day-to-day operations of the sport after allegations of sexual harassment and intimidation were levelled against Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) president Brij Bhushan Singh.
Punia and Dahiya, who missed out due to a wrist and knee injury respectively, were members of the group of wrestlers that protested against Brij Bhushan in Delhi in January.
The Oversight Committee, chaired by former boxer Mary Kom which also has the presence of wrestlers Babita Phogat and Yogeshwar Dutt, hosted the selection trials.
One of those in protesting contingent, Deepak Punia, a former World Championship silver-medallist, comfortably sealed his place in the 92kg category of the Asian event. 2022 CWG bronze medallist Deepak Nehra also made the cut in the 97kg category,
The selection trials for women wrestlers will be held in New Delhi on Saturday.
Qualified wrestlers for Asian C’ships
57kg: Aman Sehrawat
65kg: Anuj Kumar
70kg: Mulayam Yadav
74kg: Yash Tushir
86kg: Jonty Kumar
92kg: Deepak Punia
97kg: Deepak Nehra
82kg: Rohit Dahiya
87kg: Sunil Kumar
97kg: Narender Cheema