The Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) will go ahead with the trials in the men’s freestyle 74kg category despite a postponement request from injured Sushil Kumar. However, the two-time Olympic medallist may get another shot in March to book a spot in India’s Wrestling squad for the Tokyo Olympics 2020.
The 36-year-old Sushil, who has been struggling to revive his career, has pulled out of Friday’s trials citing a hand injury and had requested trials in his category to be postponed. He also suffered a shoulder injury earlier which kept him away from the action after his first-round exit from World Wrestling Championship in 2019.
The winners in the trials will make the Indian team for 2020 season’s first Ranking Series tournament in Rome (January 15-18), Asian Championship in New Delhi (February 18-23) and Asian Olympic Qualifier in Xian, China from March 27 to 29.
WFI President Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh said the trails will be held in all categories — five Olympic classes in men’s freestyle and six in Greco-Roman style.
“Definitely the trials will not be postponed. We will have wrestlers competing in the 74kg. What can we do if Sushil is injured,” Sharan told PTI.
“We will see the performance of the winner in the 74kg in ranking series event. Then we will decide what next step we can take,” Sharan said when asked if Sushil can be given a chance to compete at the Asian Qualifiers.
India had secured Olympic quotas in three men’s freestyle categories through Ravi Dahiya (57kg), Bajrang (65kg) and Deepak Punia (86kg) while Vinesh Phogat (53kg) was the lone woman grappler to grab a Tokyo Games quota at the World Championships in Nur Sultan.
While Ravi, Deepak and Vinesh have been asked to compete in the trails, competition in their categories will be held only for the Rome and the New Delhi events.
“If the WFI feels that we do not have a strong candidate going for the Asian Qualifier (for Tokyo Games) in March, the federation may ask Sushil to appear in a trial,” said WFI Assistant Secretary Vinod Tomar.
Sushil has been struggling to revive his career and was training vigorously with his Russian coach Kamal Malikov. “I will be fit in two weeks’ time. Don’t worry, I will be back. I had sustained this hand injury after the Worlds while training. The WFI knew about it. It’s ok if they are going ahead with the trials,” Sushil was quoted by PTI.
The women’s trials will be held in Lucknow on Saturday.