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Wrestlers want to take part in Asian Games trials

One day after calling off the protest, wrestlers expressed intent to take part in the upcoming Asian Games trials.

Wrestlers want to take part in Asian Games trials

Sakshi Malik (right), Vinesh Phogat (second from right), and Bajrang Punia (center) took Jantar Mantar to protest against the WFI President. (PritishRaj/TheBridge)



Updated: 8 Jun 2023 2:40 PM GMT

A day after calling off their protest against outgoing WFI chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh having received assurance from the government, the wrestlers on Thursday expressed intent to take part in the Asian Games selection trials scheduled to be held later this month.

Sports Minister Anurag Thakur on Thursday said that all national federations are aiming to finalize the squads for the Asian Games, well before the July 15 deadline set by the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA).

The Games are set to take place in Hangzhou, China from September 23 to October 8. The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) had on April 27 announced that a three-member ad-hoc committee.

A two-member ad hoc committee of Bhupender Singh Bajwa and Suma Shirur, which is running the day-to-day affairs of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) since May 4 will be conducting the selection trials most likely in the last week of June.

However, the wrestlers want some more time to get ready for the trials. "We want to take part in the selection trial but to prepare for it, we need at least a month and a half of training," international wrestler Satyawart Kadian, who is also Sakshi Malik's husband, told PTI on Thursday.

Getting back into competition mode will be a tough task for the wrestlers as some haven't competed since the World Championships in September last year while some of the others last hit the mat even earlier, during the Commonwealth Games in August 2022.

The grapplers had pulled out of a slew of international events recently while Vinesh Phogat and Bajrang Punia also opted out of their international training camps in April due to the protest.

While the two central figures of the protest -- Tokyo Olympics bronze medallist Bajrang and world championship medallist Vinesh -- figure in the long list, the same cannot be said about Rio Olympics bronze medallist Malik.

The wrestlers have been demanding the arrest of outgoing WFI chief Singh, who they have accused of sexually exploiting women wrestlers, including a minor.

However, after a marathon meeting with Thakur on Wednesday where they were assured that a chargesheet will be filed by against Singh, the wrestlers suspended the protest till June 15 as a resolution seems to be around the corner.

On Thursday, Thakur reiterated that the wrestlers' demands, including the formation of a WFI Internal Complaints Committee headed by a female, will be met.

"I said yesterday as well, we had a very positive meeting with the protesting wrestlers. All the issues that they raise we discussed and we have said that the chargesheet will be filed by June 15 and the WFI elections will take place by June 30. "We want the wrestlers to return to the mat and take part in competitions," Thakur said.

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