Sushil Kumar (right).
Veteran grappler Sushil Kumar will be the star attraction when the men’s wrestling trials for the Asian Olympic qualifiers are held in New Delhi on March 16. The trials will only be in Olympic categories – freestyle and Greco-Roman – with the final team also competing in the Asian Wrestling Championships.
Ravi Kumar Dahiya (57kg), Bajrang Punia (65kg) and Deepak Punia (86kg) have already sealed their places at the Olympics in the men’s freestyle category, while Vinesh Phogat (53kg) is till now the only woman to have booked her spot for Tokyo 2021 till now.
The 74kg category will grab the most eyeballs with the top names in the wrestling fraternity fighting for a place in the freestyle category. Narsingh Yadav, Jitender Kinha and Sandeep Singh Mann are expected to compete in the event. However, the participation of two-time Olympic medallist Sushil is under a bit of a cloud.
“We haven’t received any confirmation from Sushil till now. The trials are on March 16 and he can put his name anytime he wants before March 16,” Wrestling Federation of India Assistant Secretary Vinod Tomar told Sportskeeda.
Lot to play for at Asian Wrestling Olympic qualifiers
The IOC has announced only six weight categories for the Olympics in the men’s freestyle event. With Dahiya, Bajrang and Deepak having already booked their slots, the remaining positions up for grabs are 74kg, 97kg and 125kg.
Meanwhile, all six weight categories in Greco-Roman will be up for grabs. They are 60 kg, 67 kg, 77 kg, 87 kg, 97 kg and 130 kg. The women can still qualify in five weight categories -- 50 kg, 57 kg, 62 kg, 68 kg and 76 kg.
The Asian Olympic qualifiers are scheduled for April 9 to 11 while the Asian Wrestling Championships will take place from April 13 to 18, both in Almaty, Kazakhstan. The dates for the women’s wrestling trials are yet to be decided.
If the Indians fail at the Asian Olympic qualifiers, they can still book their ticket to Tokyo at the World Olympic qualifiers in Bulgaria in May.