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Sushil Kumar’s World Championship participation in danger after being excluded from national camp

“If Sushil isn’t prepared for the World Championships, there are other grapplers, such as Sumit (Chhatrasal Stadium), who can train with Malikov,” said Vinod Tomar, the WFI assistant secretary

other sports Updated: May 31, 2019 23:58 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Sushil Kumar,World Championship,WFI
India's Kumar Sushil celebrats with his flag after wrestling against South Africa's Jahannes Botha during the men's freestyle 74 kg gold medal wrestling match at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in the Carrara Sports Arena on the Gold Coast on April 12, 2018.(AFP)

Two-time Olympic Games medallist, wrestler Sushil Kumar’s name does not figure in the list of 45 probables for the national camp, scheduled to commence at the Sports Authority of India centre in Sonepat from June 3. The camp attains significance as the shortlisted grapplers will compete in the World Championships at Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan — a 2020 Olympics qualification event—from September 14-22.

The Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) said it will allow Sushil to compete in the selection trials to be held in the last week of July. “Since he is one of our top wrestlers, we can’t ignore him. If he is fit and wants to participate (in the trials) we have no issues,” said Vinod Tomar, the WFI assistant secretary.

“Top wrestlers skipping the camp for valid reasons will be allowed to compete in the trials. Sushil wants to train on his own and does not want to join the camp. We have accepted his request,” added Tomar.

Sushil said he would comment on the issue on Friday. The WFI had recently appointed Russian coach Malikov Kamal to support Sushil’s preparation for the World Championships. “If Sushil isn’t prepared for the World Championships, there are other grapplers, such as Sumit (Chhatrasal Stadium), who can train with Malikov,” said Tomar.

After his none-too-impressive performance at the Jakarta Asian Games last year, where he was eliminated in the first round of the 74kg category, Sushil has not participated in any international competition this year. In March, the London Olympic Games silver medallist withdrew from the final selection trials for the April 23-28 Asian Championships in China. Amit Dhankar won the trials and eventually clinched silver in the Asian meet.

On Thursday, the sports ministry approved WFI’s Annual Calendar of Training and Competitions (ACTC) and earmarked R45 lakh for training equipment. The men’s team will have a short training stint in Turkey, while the women’s team will train in Spain in July/August to prepare for the first Olympic qualifiers.

The men’s freestyle and Greco-roman teams will train at Sonepat, while the women’s team, which will see the return of Vinesh Phogat—who had been nursing a knee injury for some time— to the camp in Lucknow.

The federation has also appointed French coach Fanel Carp to oversee the training of Rio Olympic bronze medallist Sakshi Malik and 2018 World Championships bronze medallist Pooja Dhanda in Lucknow. “The wrestlers wanted a personal coach and it has been approved. We have also made arrangements for his stay in the camp,” added Tomar.

Foreign expert Andrew Cook will continue to train the rest of the women’s team.

The WFI also plans to shift the Pro Wrestling League to December this year from January/February 2020. “Since the Olympic qualifying competitions will be held in March/April, it will give enough time to stay focused,” he added.

The ministry has also approved the junior national camp from June 1. The selection for the team for the World Junior Championships in Tallinn, Estonia (August 12-18) will take place on June 5- 6.

First Published: May 31, 2019 14:28 IST