The Indian wrestling contingent for the upcoming Asian Games was completed on Sunday after selection trials in the men’s freestyle, but the controversy around the direct entry to Bajrang Punia remained the talking point at the Indira Gandhi stadium.
Vishal Kaliraman overcame Rohit 9-3 in the final of the 65kg to earn a stand-by spot in the category and was expectedly dejected even after a day of dominating performances.
“It’s been so hard today, fighting five bouts and only drinking water all day. I have been training at the Chhatrasal Stadium for 10–12 years and about five years before that in the village — for these opportunities. But if you include someone directly then what is the point of all our hard work and performances? This is like destroying the careers of youngsters and juniors. We have been working so hard for so many years,” he said.
“I only wanted to win all my bouts today and come out on top and I did that. Bajrang has been named directly in the team but I am confident if he was also here, I would have won. On the mat, names don’t matter.
“We respect our seniors but in competitions you have to fight everyone. I only want to tell him (Bajrang), give trials and earn your spot. This is not about any one person.
“Everyone has to fight and the one who works hardest and wins will go ahead. I still hope something positive will happen but we will go even to the Supreme Court if we have to fight for our rights,” he added.
Chhatrasal, in fact, dominated the proceedings with four of the six winners belonging to the famed centre.
Aman Sehrawat earned his spot in the 57kg with a 9-2 win in the final against fellow trainee Rahul even as Tokyo Olympics silver medalist Ravi Dahiya looked clearly out of depth and not fully recovered from his knee injury. He was pinned in the opening round itself by Atish Todkar.
World Championships trials likely on August 10-11
Meanwhile, the selection trials for the World Championships scheduled in September are likely to be held on August 10-11, a day before the scheduled WFI elections.
Sources said the days are almost finalised barring any last-minute development. The ad-hoc committee in charge of wrestling has already said there will be no exemptions for those and both Bajrang and Vinesh are expected to be back and in contention then.
The results (all finals): Freestyle: 57kg: Aman Sehrawat (Har) bt Rahul (Del); 65kg: Vishal Kaliraman (RSPB) bt Rohit (SSCB); 74kg: Yash (Del) bt Naveen (Har); 86kg: Deepak Punia (SSCB) bt Jointy Kumar (UP); 97kg: Vicky Hooda (Har) bt Gourav Baliyan (RSPB); 125kg: Sumit (Har) bt Ashish (Del).