Bajrang Punia is the lone Indian wrestler who will be exempted from upcoming selection trials, the Wrestling Federation of India has decided on Wednesday.
WFI will allow the 65 kg star wrestler to participate in the upcoming major competitions, including the Asian Championships, without having to contest a trial.
The 25-year-old has already earned an Olympics quota place for India by winning a bronze medal at the World Championships in September.
The WFI, however, will conduct trials for Ravi Dahiya, Deepak Punia and Vinesh Phogat, all of whom have also qualified their respective weight categories for the Tokyo Olympics.
“Only 65 kg weight category will not have any trials,” WFI general secretary Vinod Tomar said. “He has proven his worth and is already qualified for Olympics so he will be training accordingly.”
The same trials, to be held in first week of January, will be used to pick a team for the Asian Olympic qualifying event which will be held in March in Xian, China. The finallists of respective weight categories in Xian will earn Olympic quotas for their countries.
The winners of the trials will also get to participate in Asian Championships which will be held in New Delhi from February 18 to 25.
Scroll.in understands that Punia had asked the federation to exempt him of trials as he will be travelling to Turkey for an exposure camp next week before participating in the Matteo Pellicone tournament in Rome. It is the first ranking series tournament of the year and will be held from January 25 to 28.
Apart from 65 kg, India have earned Olympic quota spots in 57 kg and 86 kg weight categories in men’s and 53 kg in women’s freestyle; the trials in these categories will be for Rome tournament and the Asian Championships only. That means, Ravi Dahiya (57 kg), Deepak Punia (86 kg) and Vinesh Phogat (women 53 kg) have to appear for the trials.
“Phogat was in 55 kg at the senior National Championships and had a close final bout. So she will have to give the trial,” Tomar said. “Dahiya and Punia are still young and need more competition.”
India are yet to qualify a wrestler for 74 kg, 97 kg and 125 kg weight categories in men’s freestyle. In Greco-Roman no wrestler has qualified for the 2020 Games. The WFI has also decided to not send any wrestlers to ranking series in the non-Olympics weight categories in all three styles.
The selection trials will see some top stars, especially in women’s, trying to get a step closer to Tokyo Olympics. The biggest of them will be Sushil Kumar who will participate in 74 kg. He went to the World Championships as well but failed to progress deep. 2018 World Championships bronze medallist Pooja Dhanda, 2016 Rio Olympics medallist Sakshi Malik, Asian Games bronze medallist Divya Kakran and Under-23 World Championships silver medallist Pooja Gehlot will also be part of the trials.
In Greco-Roman, three-time age-group World Championships medallist Sajan Bhanwal, Asian Championships medallists Gurpreet Singh, Harpreet Singh and Gyanender Dahiya will take part.