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Monday, September 27, 2021

Injured Sushil Kumar to miss Olympics qualification trials, requests postponement

Sushil said he was yet to fully recover from a shoulder injury and submitted a medical certificate to the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) on Wednesday.

Written by Mihir Vasavda | New Delhi |
Updated: January 2, 2020 7:53:31 am
Sushil Kumar, Sushil Kumar wrestling, Sushil Kumar Olympic qualification, Sushil Kumar olympics medal, Indian express Sushil Kumar hasn’t competed after last year’s World Championships. (File)

Two-time Olympic medalist Sushil Kumar has opted out of Friday’s selection trials for next month’s Asian Championships and the continental Olympic qualifying event to be held in March.

Sushil said he was yet to fully recover from a shoulder injury and submitted a medical certificate to the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) on Wednesday. The 36-year-old has requested that the trials for 74kg category be postponed. Although it is likely that the federation will accept his request, WFI assistant secretary Vinod Tomar said a final call on the issue on Thursday.

After the Rio Olympics fiasco, in which India went unrepresented in the 74kg category despite having a quota, Sushil started competing in major events in 2018. He won the CWG gold but made early exits at the Asian Games later that year and also the 2019 World Championships – the first Olympic qualification event.

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Sushil’s future has been uncertain after the World Championship as he has not competed in any tournaments after that, including the national championships. In his absence, 18-year-old Gaurav Baliyan emerged as the country’s best wrestling in 74kg class. The clash between the two at the selection trials was highly anticipated. But that, it seems, will have to wait. “I have requested the federation to postpone the trials,” Sushil said. “I am recovering from an injury to my right shoulder and will not be fit for Friday’s trials. I have been preparing for it for a long time so I hope the federation will take it into consideration and reschedule the trials.”

Friday’s trials are significant from the point of view of the Tokyo Olympics. The WFI had announced the winner would make the team for three crucial tournaments: the year’s first ranking series in Rome from January 25 to 28, the Asian Championship in Delhi from February 18 to 25 and the Olympic qualification tournament in Xi’an, China, in March.

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Of the four Olympic quota winners, only Bajrang Punia (65kg) has been exempted from competing in the trials because of his consistent performances, according to WFI. The rest – Ravi Dahiya (57kg), Deepak Punia (86kg) and Vinesh Phogat (53kg) – will take part in the trials despite earning Olympic quotas and winning World Championship medals. The trials in their categories will only be for the Rome ranking series and Asian Championship.

Indian wrestlers can still qualify in the 74kg, 97kg and 125kg categories in men’s freestyle while in women’s, apart from Vinesh no other wrestler has made the cut. In Greco-Roman, too, no Indian wrestler has qualified so far for the Tokyo Games.

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