India’s most decorated wrestler Sushil Kumar is nursing a shoulder injury and has requested the Wrestling Federation of India to postpone the 74kg category trials for next month’s Asian Championships and the continental Olympic qualifiers in March.
The trials were to be held in New Delhi on Friday with the winners making the Indian squad for the two tournaments and the year’s first ranking series in Rome from January 25-28.
“I have requested the federation to postpone the trials,” Sushil Kumar was quoted as saying by The Indian Express. “I am recovering from an injury to my right shoulder and will not be fit for Friday’s trials. I have been preparing for it for a long time so I hope the federation will take it into consideration and reschedule the trials.”
WFI is likely to take a decision on Thursday.
India won four Olympic quotas at the 2018 World Championships and will have a chance to earn a Tokyo spot in 74kg, 97kg and 125kg category at the Olympic qualification event in Xi’an, China. The federation has only exempted Bajrang Punia (65kg) from the trials while all other quota winners will have to compete in the trials for a spot in the national squad for the Rome event and the Asian Championships.
Sushil Kumar, who won back-to-back medals in the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games in 66kg category, has been trying to make a mark in the 74 kg category since returning to action after the Rio Olympics fiasco which saw Narsingh Yadav banned for four years following a hearing in the Olympics village.
However, there have been doubts over his future since his early exits from the Asian Games and the World Championships with 18-year-old Gaurav Baliyan emerging as a strong contender after winning the nationals in Sushil Kumar’s absence.
If the federation accepts the 36-year-old’s request then Baliyan will have to wait for another few days to challenge the legend for a shot at international glory.