Wrestlers relieved as trials kick off

ByAvishek Roy, Sonipat
May 18, 2023 12:06 AM IST

Ad hoc panel to decide on conducting Asian Games trials and national junior meets next month

By the time Tushar finished on the top of a crowded 60kg boys under-17 selection trial for the Asian Championships (U17&U23), he had lost count of the number of bouts he had fought, and understandably so. The Haryana boy won seven back-to-back bouts in total in a draw packed with 65 wrestlers at the SAI Regional Centre here to book his ticket to Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.

A total of 211 freestyle wrestlers attended the trials in five weight categories on the first day in Sonipat.
A total of 211 freestyle wrestlers attended the trials in five weight categories on the first day in Sonipat.

Tushar was not alone. Narender in 71kg, too, had to negotiate a draw of 51 wrestlers to make it to the India team. Despite the tough day, both were smiling at the end because they had nearly given up hope of competing in the Asian meet.

Wrestling’s domestic calendar is in a complete mess since the suspension of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) and the unprecedented protests by India’s top wrestlers against president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh over allegations of sexual harassment.

Most of the age-group Nationals and Ranking Series tournaments have not been held, throwing the two-member ad hoc committee comprising IOA executive council member Bhupinder Singh Bajwa and national coach Suma Shirur, who are overseeing WFI’s administration, into a precarious situation just days before sending the entries for the Asian meet. After consulting with national coaches, they decided to call for an open trial.

Freestyle (U17 and U23) alone received 883 entries for 20 weight classes in four days. The corresponding figure is 394 in women’s wrestling and 427 in Greco Roman.

“The selection trials are the resumption of the domestic calendar because we thought our wrestlers will not be able to participate in Bishkek. We have been waiting for the trials for the last two months but because of the crisis the sport is facing in the country, everything was stalled. In fact, it would have affected several juniors because they would have crossed the age by next year,” said Tushar’s coach Sudhir.

“We hope tournaments and selection trials are organised on time. The junior wrestlers have suffered a lot. In normal circumstances, they would have been training in a national camp for at least a month before an international tournament. In camps, they get to learn new techniques, spar with a variety of opponents and it helps them to graduate to next level. The last five months they had to train in their respective centres,” he added.

Tushar was relieved to make it to the India team. “Pata nahin tha trials kab hoga, kaise hoga (We did not know when the team would be picked). I am very excited to represent my country.”

Another coach Mukesh Dahiya said it was difficult to keep the wrestlers motivated. “The wrestlers and their parents were quite anxious. We were taking them to compete in dangals etc but without proper competitions, it is difficult to prepare them for international tournaments,” said Dahiya.

After the trials end on May 20, the ad hoc committee will take a call on holding a short camp before the U17&U23 Asian meet, beginning June 10. It is learned the panel is planning to hold the U15 and U20 national championships in the second week of June. The biggest challenge would be to hold the trials for the Asian Games and the entries need to be sent by July. The team for the world championships – which is a Paris Olympics qualifier -- also needs to be picked in advance.

“The ad hoc panel has asked coaches and wrestlers to state their preference on World Championships (Sept 16-24, Serbia) and the Asian Games (Sept 23-Oct 8, Huangzhou) due to the scheduling of these events,” said a coach aware of the developments.

A total of 211 freestyle wrestlers attended the trials in five weight categories on the first day in Sonipat. There were 105 women wrestlers and 112 in Greco Roman who competed in NIS Patiala.


Freestyle U17: 48 Kg Rupesh , 60 Kg Tushar, 71 Kg Narender

U23: 97 Kg. Sahil, 125 Kg Akash Antil

GR U17: 48 Kg Siddhanath, 60 kg Varun, 71 Kg Soham Raj

U23: 82 Kg Rohit Dahiya, 130 Kg Parvesh

WW U17: 43 Kg Parveen, 53 Kg Rajnita, 61 Kg Savita

WW U23: 59 Kg Anjali, 76 Kg Harshita

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