Wrestlers want Asian Games trials in August, IOA approaches OCA for extension
The protesting wrestlers have asked SAI to conduct Asian Games trials in August in order get in proper physical shape.
The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) on Friday approached the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA), seeking an extension of the July 15 deadline for providing details of the country's wrestling squad for the Asian Games after the protesting grapplers requested the Sports Ministry to conduct trials in August.
The IOA is required to submit lists of squads of all sporting disciplines to the OCA by July 15 and the apex sports body has already asked all the national federations to submit the final names of their respective selected players by June 30.
The protesting wrestlers, including Bajrang Punia, are now keen to compete in the Asian Games trials but need time to be in good physical shape, as they hardly got time to prepare due to their long-drawn protest against Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh.
It has been learnt that the wrestlers wrote a letter to Deputy Sports Secretary SPS Tomar on Friday and the ministry official forwarded the request on Saturday to the ad-hoc body that is managing the WFI affairs at the moment.
An IOA source confirmed to PTI that the ad-hoc body approached the IOA, which wrote to the OCA, seeking a deadline extension. "Yes we had received the letter that was written by the wrestlers, and accordingly, it was decided that OCA's view can be taken if they are willing to extend the deadline for the wrestlers," the official, who did not wish to be named, said.
The ad-hoc body was keen to conduct the trials in the last week of June so that the names could be given to the IOA before the June 30 deadline given to all National Sports Federations (NSFs). The Asian Games will be held in Hangzhou, China from September 23 to October 8.
Bajrang Punia starts training
Bajrang, who is the reigning Asian Games champion, has started his training at the Bahalgar SAI centre. He practised with his sparring partner, Jitender Kinha.
If Bajrang gets to compete in the trials, his biggest rival will be Surjeet Kalakal, who is fast rising in the 65kg category. He is the reigning national champion and the U23 Asian champion.
Anuj, who trains at the same akhada where Bajrang also practised in the past, and Vishal Kaliraman, a Chhtarasal Stadium product, are the other competitors, but they are not expected to push a fully-fit Bajrang.
The protesting wrestlers are expected to meet farmer leaders Rakesh and Naresh Tikait on Saturday during the Bharat Kisan Union (BKU) meet in Haridwar to discuss their future strategy.
A final call on the future of wrestlers' agitation is likely to be taken on Sunday when the wrestlers meet Khap and other farmer leaders.