October 3, 2023

Bajrang Punia, Vinesh Phogat exempted from Hangzhou Asian Games trials: Sources

India’s ace wrestlers Bajrang Punia and Vinesh Phogat will go directly to participate in the upcoming Asian games, Hangzhou, without appearing in the national trials, according to sources. The ad hoc committee which was established by the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) has decided to give them an exemption from the trials.

According to Sources, there is a rule in the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) that if there is any situation where Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) athletes need exemption (world champions and Olympic medalists) they can receive it. As per the guidelines ad hoc committee can give exemptions to those athletes as the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) didn’t give an exemption to IOA. Rio Olympics bronze medalist Sakshi Malik didn’t receive an exemption because she is not a TOPS athlete and thus she has to appear for trials. Punia and Vinesh were among the wrestlers who protested against Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief Brij Bhushan Singh, against whom allegations of sexual harassment were made. The two-time world championships medallist and the reigning Asian Games champion, Vinesh, was set to make her return to the mat at the Budapest Ranking Series 2023. However, she opted to withdraw from the 55kg weight class after informing the organisers as well as the Sports Authority of India (SAI) about her inability to participate in the competition due to “fever and food poisoning” according to Olympics.com. Last week, the National Anti-Doping Agency issued a notice to Vinesh Phogat for “apparent failure” to comply with the whereabouts requirements of the Anti-Doping Rules, and give her two weeks to respond. “I am writing to give you formal notice to notify you of your apparent failure to comply with the whereabouts requirements of the ADR, and to invite you to make any comments before we come to a final decision on the matter. Please read this letter carefully, as it may have serious consequences for you,’ read the notice from NADA. The notice also revealed that Vinesh had declared to be available for testing at Sonipat, Haryana in her recent Whereabouts Filing on June 27 at 10:00 PM. Ahead of the upcoming games, both players have also headed to Kyrgystan and Hungary for international training camps. The duo sent in their proposals on June 29, to the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports (MYAS) TOPS team and the same was cleared within 24 hours of their request, an official release said. While Olympic medalist Bajrang Punia has headed out to Issyk-Kul, Kyrgyzstan for 36 days of training camp, World Championships medalist Vinesh headed out to Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan for first a week of training and then to Tata, Hungary for 18 days of training camp. Vinesh has been accompanied by physiotherapist Ashwini Jeevan Patil, sparring partner Sangeeta Phogat and Coach Sudesh. Bajrang will be accompanied by Coach Sujeet Maan, Physiotherapist Anuj Gupta, sparring partner Jitender and Strength and Conditioning expert Kaazi Hasan. The release said the government will fund Vinesh, Bajrang, their sparring partners Sangeeta Phogat and Jitender and coaches Sudesh and Sujeet Maan’s air tickets, board and lodging costs, camp expenses, airport transfer costs, OPA and other miscellaneous costs. Additionally, the cost for the other support staff accompanying the wrestlers will be borne by Olympic Gold Quest (OGQ). (ANI)