India at Asian Games 2023: Gymnastics, Weightlifting, Fencing squads cut down
India's contingent at the 2023 Asian Games sees a big jump in Roller sports, inclusion of women swimmers and a first-ever E-sports contingent in medal events.
After days of suspense, courtroom drama, tense phone calls and social media outrage, India's final list of 634 athletes at the 2023 Asian Games is known.
A total of 850 athletes' names were recommended by the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) following nominations from the respective sports federations. More than 200 athletes from that original long list have been cut out by the Union Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports (MYAS) before its final publication on Friday, August 25.
Gymnast Dipa Karmakar, weightlifter Achinta Sheuli and India's top ranked male fencer Karan Singh were a few star athletes who got the axe.
They will not be making the trip to Hangzhou, China as they failed to meet the selection criterion of the ministry, which stipulated that athletes’ performances in individual competitions over the course of the previous 12 months “should not fall below the performance achieved by the eighth position holder in the Asian Games 2018.”
Sports contingents cut down
Pranati Nayak is the only Indian gymnast to have been cleared. None of the men who topped the Asian Games trials, or Dipa Karmakar, who topped the women's trial, has been included.
In Weightlifting too, going against the federation's announcement, both male lifters N Ajith and Achinta Sheuli were dropped. Only the two women lifters, Mirabai Chanu and Bindyarani Devi, will be making the trip.
In Fencing, the men’s epee, women’s foil, and both men’s and women’s sabre teams in fencing were disqualified for not meeting the competitive criterion of selection. Bhavani Devi will be leading an 8-member Indian fencing squad in Hangzhou, but she will be competing only in individual events.
Tennis, Archery and Shooting also had a few minor changes. Sasikumar Mukund, Sahaja Yamalapalli and Vaidehi Chaudhari’s names were left out from the Tennis squad. Angad Bajwa and Tarundeep Rai are among others who have not made it to the final list.
Sports left out
A number of other sports have been discarded completely. Modern pentathlon, triathlon, taekwondo have all been cut out from the final list. Water polo had been left out earlier itself.
The Indian men's handball team has been left out, while the women's handball team has been included. The men's 5x5 basketball team was also left out on the basis of rankings. The women’s 5×5 and men’s and women’s 3×3 teams will be participating in Basketball.
The final kurash and ju-jitsu squads have also been sized down considerably.
Big names not selected
Some other big names have also been passed over for various reasons. Like Karthi Selvam, the toast of the town in the recent Hockey Asian Champions Trophy, who does not make it to the men's team in Hangzhou due to India's attacking riches.
Javelin thrower DP Manu, who won an Asian Athletics silver last month, has been left out. With only two Indian entries allowed per event, it will be Kishore Jena who will be accompanying Neeraj Chopra in javelin.
Jump in representation
In terms of big upward changes in representation, India will have a 15-member E-sports contingent for the first time, a 14-member Roller Sports contingent up from a 4-member contingent last time, and the inclusion of women swimmers for the first time since 2006. An 8-member women's swimming team will be in Hangzhou.