Sushil Kumar keeps trials option open
Double Olympic Games medallist Sushil Kumar will be the top draw—that is, if he confirms his entry—when the selection trials for the season-opening Tokyo Olympics qualification tournament (World Championships in Kazakhstan, September 14-22) take place in Sonepat on July 26.
While the 36-year-old had expressed interest in participating in the 74kg freestyle category, he is yet to confirm his entry for trials.
Last month, Sushil had opted out of the national camp after informing the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI). Subsequently, he left to train in Russia.
WFI assistant sectary Vinod Tomar said on Monday that, “No wrestler will be allowed to compete in the trials without approval if he was not a part of the camp.”
Tomar added that Sushil had visited the WFI office on Monday, but he “made no official request for participation in trials”. “The WFI had sponsored his month-long (June 20 to July 20) exposure trip to Russia to prepare for the World Championships. If he doesn’t give his consent to compete by Wednesday, it would be difficult to add his name for trials later on because the weigh-in will be held on Thursday,” said Tomar.
Despite repeated attempts, Sushil couldn’t be reached for comment. This season, Sushil hasn’t participated in any competition, domestic or international. His last major tournament was the Asian Games in Jakarta where he bowed out in the first round.
Sushil was expected to participate in the trials for the Asian Championships in Xi’an, China (April 23-28), but he withdrew at the last minute. In his absence, Amit Dhankar dominated the 74kg bouts and eventually won silver in Xi’an.
For the World Championships, the WFI will hold trials in six weight categories —57kg, 65kg, 74kg, 86kg, 97kg and 125kg.
The trials in the women’s section will be held on July 28 in Lucknow in 50kg, 53kg, 57kg, 62kg,68kg and 76kg categories.
Tomar said participants will get a two-kg relaxation in weight categories.
“The coaches have advised that at this moment, competitors shouldn’t reduce their weight as they will do so prior to the World Championships. Reducing substantial weight in a short span of time might impact performance,” he said.
Bajrang Punia, the Asian Games champion in 65kg category, is favourite to seal a World Championships berth, while in-form Vinesh Phogat is fancied to win her 53kg bout.
Rio Olympic Games bronze medallist Sakshi Malik, who was sidelined recently due to an injury, could face tough challenge.