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Bajrang Punia, Vinesh Phogat to lead Indian wrestling challenge at Matteo Pellicone event

Bajrang Punia
Bajrang Punia
Srijanee Majumdar
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The Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) on Wednesday announced a 34-member Indian squad for the 2021 Matteo Pellicone International Ranking Series tournament to be held in Rome from March 4 to 7.

Leading the men's freestyle team will be the 2019 World Championships bronze medallist Bajrang Punia (65kg). 2019 World Championships silver medallist Deepak Punia (86kg) and 2010 Commonwealth Games gold medallist Narsingh Yadav (74kg) are two of the other big names in the Indian men's freestyle squad.

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Also Read: 'If the Olympics had happened in August, we could have got 3-4 medals in wrestling' - Bajrang Punia

Asian Wrestling Championships gold medallist Ravi Kumar Dahiya (57kg) has also been named in the squad. He will look to emulate his Asian Championships run at the tournament.

Vinesh Phogat in action
Vinesh Phogat in action

Providing much-needed depth to the women's team will be Commonwealth and Asian Games gold medallist Vinesh Phogat (53kg). She had missed out on the Individual World Cup in Belgrade in December last year.

Also Read: 'My focus is to remain injury-free ahead of Tokyo Olympics 2020,' says star Indian wrestler Vinesh Phogat [Exclusive]


All eyes on Sakshi vs Sonam in the 62kg category

In the race to seal a spot in the women's 62kg weight division for the Tokyo Olympics, a clash between the 2016 Rio Olympics bronze medallist Sakshi Malik and two-time World Cadet champion Sonam Malik will go right down to the wire.

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The two have so far faced each other twice, in the Asian Championships and the Olympic qualifiers, with Sonam emerging as the winner both times.

Also Read: Can Sakshi Malik make it to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics?


Bajrang Punia & Vinesh Phogat among wrestlers to have qualified for Tokyo Olympics

Bajrang Punia
Bajrang Punia

So far, four Indian wrestlers, including Bajrang Punia, Deepak Punia, Ravi Kumar Dahiya, and Vinesh Phogat, have bagged quotas for the Tokyo Olympics.

Vinesh Phogat and Bajrang Punia will be returning to competitive action after a gap of almost one year. The other two Olympic-bound grapplers, Ravi and Deepak made a comeback to international wrestling at Belgrade World Cup last December.


Matteo Pellicone International not an Olympic qualifying event

The Matteo Pellicone International Rankings Series tournament will not be a qualifying event for Tokyo. However, it will determine the wrestlers who can qualify for the Tokyo Olympics based on their world rankings.

Two more Olympic qualifiers, namely the Asian Championships and the World Olympic qualifiers, will be held for wrestlers who are yet to qualify for Tokyo.


List of Indian wrestlers at the Matteo Pellicone tournament

Narsingh Yadav returned to the mat after a four-year doping ban in December last year.
Narsingh Yadav returned to the mat after a four-year doping ban in December last year.

Freestyle men’s - Ravi Dahiya (57kg), Bajrang Punia (65kg), Rohit (65kg), Vishal Kaliraman (70kg), Narsingh Yadav (74kg), Parveen Chahar (86kg), Praveen (92kg), Pankaj (57kg), Jitender (74kg), Sandeep Singh Mann (74kg), Rahul Rathi (79kg), Deepak Punia (86kg), Satyawart Kadian (97kg), Sumit Malik (125kg)

Women’s wrestling - Vinesh Phogat (53kg), Anshu Malik (57kg), Sakshi Malik (62kg), Sonam Malik (62kg), Nisha (65kg), Meenakshi (50kg), Nandini Bajirao Salokhe (53kg), Sarita Mor (59kg), Anita (68kg), Kiran (76kg)

Men’s Greco Roman wrestling - Neeraj (63kg), Gaurav Duhoon (67kg), Kuldeep Malik (72kg), Deepanshu (97kg), Naveen (130kg), Arjun Halakurki (55kg), Manish (60kg), Harpreet Singh (82kg), Sunil Kumar (87kg), Gurpreet Singh (77kg)


Edited by Sudeshna Banerjee
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