New Delhi: The Sports Authority of India (SAI) wants Olympic-medallist wrestler Bajrang Punia to attend the trials for the World championships or provide fitness certificate if he wants exemption from this week’s exercise in Patiala.
Punia is planning to skip the trials for the World Championships on August 25 and 26 and instead wants to train at a foreign location to prepare for the Asian Games in Hangzhou beginning September 23.
Bajrang, one of six wrestlers to sit in protest at the Jantar Mantar against outgoing WFI chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, and Commonwealth Games gold-medal winner Deepak Punia (86khg) are not keen to compete in the World Championships in Belgrade from September 16, and instead want to undergo long training stints to prepare of the Asian Games.
While Bajrang has sent a proposal to train in Issyk-Kul, Kyrgyzstan (August 21-September 28), Deepak, on the other hand, wants to train in Khasavyurt (Russia) for five weeks (August 23 to September 28) to prepare for the Asian Games.
“Yes, we have asked Bajrang why he is skipping the Worlds trials. He said he wants to prepare for Asian Games and train abroad till then. But we asked him to appear for the trials on August 25 and 26 and leave for training camp abroad on August 27,” a SAI official told PTI on condition of anonymity on Monday.
The World Championships is the first qualification tournament for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games and SAI is unhappy that two of the country’s top wrestlers want to skip the trials and the showpiece event.
While Bajrang, the 65kg grappler, who won the 2020 Tokyo Olympics bronze, has also demanded physiotherapist Anuj Gupta, personal coach Sujeet Maan, strength and conditioning expert Kaazi Kiron Mustafa Hasan and sparring partner Jitender Kinha to accompany him, Deepak has requested the services of coach Kamal Malikov and physiotherapist Shubham Gupta for the training stints.
SAI wants the two wrestlers to compete in the Worlds trials to first prove their fitness and then is willing to consider their training proposal abroad after that.
“We have also asked him (Bajrang) to provide his fitness certificate if he has to skip the trials altogether. We have also received his request for his support staff. The matter is with MOC (Mission Olympic Cell) right now and they will take a call after getting due reply from Bajrang,” said the SAI source.
Bajrang and his sparring partner Kinha had recently returned from Kyrgyzstan following a long training stint.
The ace wrestler, along with Asian Games gold medallist Vinesh Phogat and Olympic medallist Sakshi Malik had requested foreign training stints to get back into competitive shape as they had been sitting for nearly two months at Jantar Mantar protesting against Brij Bhushan.
All the six wrestlers who had protested at Jantar Mantar had earlier been exempted from appearing in the trials for the Asian Games on July 22-23, leading to a massive opposition from fellow wrestlers, who opposed the special treatment being given to them.