Protesting wrestlers seeking to train in US ahead of Asian Games trials

India's top wrestlers, including Commonwealth Games winner Vinesh Phogat and Olympian medallist Bajrang Punia, who had spearheaded the protest against Wrestling Federation of India chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, have now written to the Sports Ministry seeking to train in Michigan, USA to prepare for the upcoming Asian Games trials.

Sakshi Malik, Satyawart Kadian and
Sakshi Malik, Satyawart Kadian and Vinesh Phogat with other protesters at Jantar Mantar. Photo: Connected to India

The wrestlers had earlier requested the Sports Ministry to push the trials to the month of August as they needed enough time to be in good physical and mental shape.

"They have written directly to Sports Minister Anurag Thakur. The minister has forwarded the request to the Mission Olympic Cell (MOC), which is yet to discuss the issue," a Sports Ministry source told PTI.

"Vinesh, Bajrang, Sakshi Malik, Satyawart Kadian and Sangeeta Phogat have written the letter," he added.

The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) has to submit the names of all the participating athletes to Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) by July 15 and thus the ad-hoc panel needs to conduct trials before that.

The IOA has approached the OCA to extend the deadline to accommodate the wrestlers' request but it is unlikely that a relaxation will be made for India.

If the request is rejected, then the IOA can't grant much time to the wrestlers for preparation.

"The only favour IOA can do to the wrestlers is to delay the trials as much as possible. Names have to be given before July 15, so wrestlers can't have 45 days to prepare. Maximum 20 days, trials have to be conducted before July 15," said the source.

The IOA itself has set a June 30 deadline for all the national sports federations (NSFs) to give details of their selected squads.

Meanwhile, several wrestlers who are ready for the trials have requested to IOA, through the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI), that trials should not be delayed because they are ready for the competition.

"The wrestlers were expecting trails in the last week of June, so they have maintained their weight accordingly. No one wants to compromise on their training for these protesting wrestlers," said an IOA source.

(Except for the headline and introduction, this story has not been edited by Connected to India's staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)