Vinesh Phogat pulls out on health grounds
Vinesh Phogat has opted out of the national wrestling camp on health grounds. Due to a spike in Covid-19 caseload in Lucknow, Divya Karan, another international medal winner, said she would also skip the camp beginning on September 1.
Besides Phogat and Kakran, the 15-member India team for the camp includes Nirmala Devi, Pinki, Seema (50 kg), Pooja Gehlot, Lalita (53 kg), Anshu, Sarita, Pooja Dhanda (57 kg), Sonam, Sakshi Malik, Navjot Kaur (62 kg), Nisha and Anita (68 kg). The camp has been called to prepare for the world championship in Belgrade from December 12 to 20.
In her message to the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI), Phogat, the 53kg Asian Games gold medallist in 2018 and a two-time Commonwealth Games champion, has cited only health issues. Kakran said joining the camp would be risky.
“In my knowledge, there is a serious hike in corona cases in Lucknow and I don’t want to risk myself. I am satisfied with my training at the Guru Prem Nath Akahara (Delhi) as I have my own mechanism of safety here --- proper sanitisation, hand wash and other measures to keep myself protected from corona virus,” said Kakran, a bronze winner in the 68kg in the Asian and Commonwealth Games in 2018, on Thursday.
Lucknow has had over 16,000 cases and 200 deaths due to the novel coronavirus. On Wednesday, at 767 Lucknow reported the highest number of new cases in Uttar Pradesh.
“I have my brother as sparring partner and am getting good training. There is no use of such camp where out of 30 days you have to spend 14 days in mandatory quarantine,” said Kakran, the 2017 Commonwealth Championships gold medallist.
“Yes, Phogat has sent a message to the WFI, citing health issue, but so far we haven’t got any information from Kakran,” said assistant-secretary Vinod Tomar. “A committee under the chairmanship of WFI president Brij Bhushan Saran Singh will take a final decision on this.”
Phogat and Kakran’s decision comes days after six players tested positive on returning to the national camp for the men’s hockey team in Bengaluru. All six have been discharged from hospital. A camp for national shooters, scheduled in New Delhi from August 1, too has been deferred indefinitely due to Covid-19.
Tomar said there was no need to take the camp out of Lucknow. “Everybody in the world is facing problem with corona and I don’t see any issue to the Indian wrestlers in attending the training camp as all safety measures are in place,” he said.
Following a virtual discussion with India coach Kuldeep Singh, local authorities at the SAI centre have promised the ‘best’ arrangements. “All kind of safety kits, exclusive stay arrangements, 24x7 sanitisation plan, setting up of additional CCTVs to keep a vigil on the campers (especially during the quarantine period) have been made,” said a SAI official.