Tokyo Olympics bronze medalist Bajrang Punia set to skip nationals in Uttar Pradesh

Wrestling - Olympics: Day 15 (file photo)
Wrestling - Olympics: Day 15 (file photo)
Navneet Singh

Tokyo Olympic Games bronze medalist in men’s freestyle wrestling Bajrang Punia will skip the upcoming senior nationals in wrestling championships. It will be held on November 11 in Uttar Pradesh.

India’s 27-year-old star wrestler will not represent the Railway squad in the national competition, said a senior coach. The Railway team has already reached the competition venue—Nandini Nagar Mahavidyalaya Campus in the district of Gonda.

Even Vinesh Phogat, who had an unceremonious exit at the Tokyo Olympic Games, will also skip the national competition. Vinesh was considered a medal prospect at the rescheduled Olympic Games held in Japan.

But the 27-year-old wrestler failed to progress beyond the quarterfinals in Japan. In September took a break as she had to undergo elbow surgery.

Tokyo Olympic silver medalist Ravi Dahiya and Deepak Punia are the other high-profile wrestlers who will skip the national competition.

Nationals will see top two wrestlers elected for the Commonwealth Games

The nationals meet is important as two top wrestlers in each weight category will be selected for next month’s Commonwealth Wrestling Championships. Since some of the big names are skipping the national meet, those on the fringes will get a chance to showcase their talent.

But Rio Olympic medalist bronze medalist Sakshi Malik has confirmed her participation in the national championship. Narsingh Yadav, India’s seasoned freestyle wrestler, will also be seen in action in the men’s 74kg.

“I will compete in 74kg at the national competition starting November 11 in Uttar Pradesh. My training has gone on the expected lines and I am looking ahead to a podium finish,” said Narsingh.

In the previous national competition, Narsingh failed to exhibit his skills and lost in the preliminary round of the men’s 74kg bout.

According to a senior wrestling coach, Karnataka's team has reached the venue.

“Other state and departmental teams are expected to arrive Wednesday,” said the coach.

Since the indoor wrestling hall at the Nandini Nagar Mahavidyalaya Campus is still under construction, the nationals will be conducted at the makeshift outdoor arena.

Also Read: Top two wrestlers in nationals to win tickets to Commonwealth Wrestling Championships

Edited by Diptanil Roy
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