Wrestler, coach face action for goof-up after India miss out on top spot in U-23 Asian Championships
The Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) is contemplating action against the women’s chief national coach, Kuldeep Malik, and 18-year-old wrestler in 57kg category, Meenakshi, for a goof up, which cost India the top position in the U-23 Asian Championships at Ulaan Baatar, Mongolia, from March 20-24.
India amassed 190 points to finish second in overall standings behind Mongolia with four gold, three silver and two bronze medals. But the team championship eluded them after Meenakshi wasn’t allowed to compete as she had left her participation certificate in India.
The Haryana wrestler, on her maiden international trip, failed to furnish the document at the time of weigh-in, resulting in her disqualification. This cost India 15 points, which led to them finishing second behind the hosts who amassed 200 points.
Had Meenakshi even lost the opening bout, she would have been assured of bronze as there were only three wrestlers in her group. She would have got 15 points, which would have given India 205 points - five more than Mongolia in the maiden edition of the championship.
“We have taken a serious note of the incident and we will take action against the coach and wrestler. We will have consultations with (WFI) president and decide what action needs to be taken. Coach (Malik) should have ensured the documents were in place,” said WFI assistant secretary Vinod Tomar.
“We’ll give details about the action taken in the next 3-4 days,” said Tomar, adding that “such things are embarrassing.”
Meenakshi was given 20 minutes to furnish the papers or face disqualification. The organisers insisted on a hard copy, although she had by that time asked her family in Haryana to send her the documents on Whatsapp.
Malik conceded India had missed out on the top position because of the goof up. He put the blame on Meenakshi. “She was travelling on an international assignment for the first time. It happens at times. There was no internet connection at the venue otherwise we could have got the printed copy of the document. She still has seven more years in the U-23 category, so she will make up for the mistake,” he said.
No Visa for the chief coach
Malik, meanwhile, has not been able to accompany the women’s team on an exposure-cum-training trip to the US as he could not get the visa along with two U-23 wrestlers. The team, accompanied by foreign coach Andrew Cook, won two bouts with Kiran (76kg) and Pooja Dhanda (57kg) beating their American rivals in “Beat The Streets” competition at Los Angeles. The team is likely to return on April 15 after training at Colorado Springs till April 12.