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NEW DELHI: India will field a new-look team at the World Championships next month. Eight out of the 12 wrestlers selected in the women’s freestyle and greco-roman disciplines for the upcoming Asian Games in Hangzhou skipped the selection trials for the Belgrade Worlds held in NIS Patiala on Friday. Three other Asiad-bound grapplers failed to make the cut after losing their final bouts to their respective rivals.
Except for Vinesh Phogat’s heir apparent in women’s 53kg category, Antim Panghal, who will participate in both the Asiad and the Worlds after winning the trials, none of the 11 other wrestlers in two disciplines selected for the Asiad will be part of the Worlds in Serbia, which is also a qualifying event for Paris Olympics 2024.
The trials to select the Indian contingent in the men’s freestyle category will be held on Saturday and will not be attended by Tokyo Olympics bronze medallist Bajrang Punia (65kg) and Birmingham CWG gold winner Deepak Punia (86kg) – both have confirmed their participation in the Asiad.
The Worlds will be organised between September 16 and 24.
It’s been learnt that the wrestlers were discouraged by the United World Wrestling’s (UWW) decision to suspend the Indian body (WFI) for its failure to conduct elections on time. This means the country’s grapplers will go to the Worlds as ‘neutral athletes’ under UWW’s flag.
While Asiad-bound female grapplers Pooja Gehlot (50kg) and Mansi Ahlawat (57kg) skipped the trials, the trio of Sonam Malik (62kg), Radhika (68kg) and Kiran (76kg) couldn’t retain their places in the 10-member women’s wrestling contingent for the Worlds. Rio Games bronze medallist, Sakshee Malikkh (62kg), too, didn’t appear for the trials. She is also not part of the Indian contingent for the Asiad.
In the 50kg category, Neelam will represent the country, while Sarita Mor will spearhead the challenge in the 57kg division. Manisha (62kg), Priyanka (68kg) and Divya Kakran (76kg) will occupy the other three places. While the Asian Games offers six entries each across three events in the men’s and women’s freestyle and greco-roman categories, the Worlds allows each participating nation to send names in 10 weight divisions.
The other entries in the women’s section for the Worlds include Neha (55kg), Anjali (59kg), Antim (65kg) and Jyoti Berwal (72kg).
Similarly, the entire six-member greco-roman contingent bound for the Asiad skipped the trials, including Gyanendra (60kg), Neeraj (66kg), Vikas (77kg), Sunil Kumar (87kg), Narinder Cheema (97kg) and Naveen (130kg). The team for the Worlds has names of Ajay (55kg), Manish (60kg), Vikram (63kg), Vinayak (67ks), Ankit Gulia (72kg), Gurpreet Singh (77kg), Sajan (82kg), Manoj Kumar (87kg), Shailesh (97kg) and Mehar Singh (130kg).





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