Antim Panghal moves court to challenge Vinesh Phogat's trial exemption for Asian Games
Wrestler Antim Panghal has challenged Vinesh Phogat's direct selection into India's wrestling contingent at the Asian Games.
U20 World Champion Antim Panghal, 19, has decided to move Delhi Court after Vinesh Phogat was selected to represent India in the 53kg category at the 2023 Asian Games on Tuesday.
Confirming the development, Antim's childhood coach Vikash Bhardwaj told The Bridge, "We are moving to the high court and fighting this injustice. They are not giving young wrestlers even a chance at the competition."
Earlier in the day, the ad-hoc committee running the Wrestling Federation of India announced that Bajrang Punia and the 28-year-old Vinesh Phogat will be sent to the Asian Games without appearing in trial bouts.
While releasing the list of weight categories and eligibility for the trials, the ad-hoc committee mentioned that they have selected wrestlers in women's 53 kg (Vinesh) and men's 65 kg (Bajrang Punia) and the winners of the trials in these categories will be kept on standby in the Asian Games squad.
Commenting on the move, Vikas said, "This is unfair. There should be trials and nobody should be selected directly. Antim is not a rookie, she has defeated wrestlers in her category and won medals at Asian Championships also."
Last year in August, Antim Panghal created history after she became the first-ever Indian woman wrestler to win the gold at U-20 World Wrestling Championships in Sofia, Bulgaria.
She followed it up with a gold at the National Games in Gujarat on her debut.
When Vinesh didn't turn up for Asian Championships earlier this year due to protest, Antim won another medal at the senior level with a silver in the continental championship.
Interestingly, Antim had also defeated Mongolia's Khulan Batkhuyag, who knocked out Vinesh Phogat at the World Championships.
Vikas, who has coached Antim for the past six years, said that this decision will break her confidence after having put up brilliant performances at every level.
"Such decisions send a bad message to the upcoming and young wrestlers. A lot of kids will lose their belief and confidence if such moves are allowed," he concluded.
Rated highly by the experts, Antim Panghal will be feeling hard done by the outrageous decision taken by the ad-hoc committee running the Wrestling Federation of India.