Wrestling: Geeta Phogat’s international return delayed due to new coronavirus variant in South Africa

Geeta Phogat is one of India's top wrestlers
Geeta Phogat is one of India's top wrestlers

Geeta Phogat will have to wait longer for her international comeback as the Commonwealth Wrestling Championship that was scheduled to be held in South Africa was postponed due to the new coronavirus variant, Omicron.

The competition was to be held from December 3 to 5 in Pretoria.

“We did not want to risk our wrestlers health so we were mulling about withdrawing. But the good thing is the organizers themselves canceled the event,” Vinod Tomar, Wrestling Federation of India’s (WFI) assistant secretary, told Sportskeeda.

WFI was to field 60 wrestlers – 20 each in freestyle, Greco Roman and women’s – for the event. The top two podium finishers at the senior nationals in Gonda (Uttar Pradesh) were selected.

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"Disappointing that the competition got postponed" - Geeta Phogat

The first batch of wrestlers were to leave on Tuesday. While top names like Bajrang Punia, Ravi Dahiya, Vinesh Phogat and Anshu Malik decided to skip the event, Geeta was eagerly waiting to return to the mat.

Also Read: Rohit Singh continues to shine in 65kg, retains his national title in Bajrang Punia’s category

The veteran wrestler was looking to test herself ahead of the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games scheduled for next year. She finished second in 59kg at the nationals in what was her return to competition post motherhood.

“It is disappointing that the competition got postponed, but we need to be careful in this pandemic. We have to be mentally strong and be ready whenever the competition returns,” she said.

Pooja Gehlot (53kg) also joins Geeta in the wait. Pooja is returning to international competition after two years. She last competed at the U-23 World Championship where she won silver.

WFI expects the competition to be held in February or March.

“We don’t know when the competition will be held, but we are hoping it will be somewhere in February or March. We will send the same team,” Tomar said.

Also Read: The ‘bhaarandaz dav’ and Pooja Gehlot’s gold in her idol Vinesh Phogat's weight category

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Edited by Sanjay Rajan
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