Vinesh Phogat wins trials for Paris Olympics Qualification tournament

Vinesh Phogat has qualified for the World Olympic qualifiers after winning the women’s 50kg trials in Patiala on Monday. She defeated Shivani 11-6 to seal her place on the India team that will go to the tournament in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan next month seeking a quota for India at the Paris Olympics.

It’s to be noted that winning in Bishkek also doesn’t guarantee a place in the Olympic team since the ad-hoc committee in charge of the Wrestling Federation of India had said that there would be a further trials, the winner of which will face off against the quota winner for an Olympic berth.

Vinesh had also competed in the 53kg event but had lost 10-0 to Anju. Usually a 53kg weight-class wrestler, Vinesh had dropped to the 50kg event after returning from a long-term injury since Antim Panghal had already won India a quota in the 53kg event. (This meant that whoever won in 53kg here wouldn’t go to the Qualifier tournament since a quota was already won by the country in that division)

Meanwhile, after the losses yesterday of reigning Olympic medalists Bajrang Punia and Ravi Kumar Dahiya, there remains confusion over their participation in Paris this summer. However, as per the ad-hoc committee notification they should be able to compete in the final trials.You can read more about that here: Explained: Can Bajrang Punia and Ravi Dahiya qualify for the 2024 Paris Olympics?

Vinesh, Bajrang and the now retired Sakshi Malik had led a massive protest against ex-WFI chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh through the whole of last year – one that ended with Singh being taken to court for alleged sexual harassment and abuse (the case is still on).

‘A tweet is not enough’ – Vinesh on how the sports community stayed silent and let itself down

In elections held in December 2023, Singh’s close associate Sanjay Singh had won comfortably and that had triggered another round of serious protests — with Sakshi retiring and Vinesh and Bajrang returning their prestigious government awarded honours. The sports ministry then had suspended the Sanjay Singh administration, citing ‘blatant disregard for norms and sports code’ and put the running of the WFI in charge, again, of an Indian Olympic Association appointed ad-hoc committee.

Currently it’s this ad-hoc committee that’s in charge of the trials for the events that will enable Indian wrestlers to qualify for the Olympics.

The different weight classes at the Olympics are as below (A reminder: India have won a quota only in the women’s 53kg so far):

Men’s Freestyle: 57kg, 65kg, 74kg, 86kg, 97kg, 125kg.

Women’s Freestyle: 50kg, 53kg, 57kg, 62kg, 68kg, 76kg.

Greco-Roman (Men’s): 60kg, 67kg, 77kg, 87kg, 97kg, 130kg.

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