All eyes will be on two-time gold medallist Vinesh Phogat at the trials to pick the India team for the Commonwealth Games which begins here on Monday, at the Sports Authority of India centre. The ace wrestler is expected to face stiff resistance from fellow grappler Anju, a bronze medallist from last year’s under-23 world championships.
In two meetings so far, Phogat, a gold medallist at the 2018 Asian Games, has struggled against Anju once. At this year’s Yasar Dogu 2022 ranking series in Istanbul in Turkey in February, Phogat, who was returning to competitive action for the first time after her quarter-final loss at the Tokyo Olympics, won 8-7 even though Anju was leading by a point right until the final 30 seconds.
Phogat, who had lost to American ace Jacarra Winchester, a former world champion in the semi-final at Istanbul, managed to enter the bronze-medal match, where she lost to Russian opponent Ekaterina Isakova in the medal bout, losing by fall.
Before the Istanbul meet, Phogat had a 10-5 win against Anju at the selection trials for the 2021 world championships. Anju wasn’t allowed to compete in the selection trials then for the Asian Championship but the Haryana girl would now be trying her best to topple Phogat to win a ticket for this year’s Commonwealth Games, scheduled in August in Birmingham.
“Undoubtedly, Anju is a fast emerging wrestler to challenge the top guns of the country but an experienced Phogat is well prepared to tackle all challenge at the trials as she is fully fit and raring to go,” one of the coaches at the ongoing national camp said on Friday. “Probably, at Istanbul, Phogat was not fit. But this time she is in a great shape and she knows as how to handle Anju’s challenger,” he said.
Tough tussles in five other weight categories are also likely as big names of women’s wrestling including Rio Olympics bronze medallist Sakshi Malik will be trying for a berth in the Indian team. A fit Sonam Malik, who enjoys a hattrick of wins against Sakshi, including one at the Tokyo Olympics team trials, would be there to challenge her for yet another time. “It’s good that Sonam is fully fit and ready to stake claim for a berth in the team,” said another coach on Friday, adding, “Sakshi too is a very good shape and good prospects to make it to the Indian team.”
Unlike the previous announcements made by the Wrestling Federation of India, the trials on Monday are for Commonwealth Games only. Trials for four categories will take place later as a 10-member Indian team would be participating in the World Championships, scheduled to be held from September 10 to 18.
“The trials for the postponed Asian Games would be held separately later as the gold medallist in Monday’s trials would be participating in the CWG only,” said WFI’s assistant secretary Vinod Tomar.
The first-choice wrestlers are scheduled to have two-month competition-cum-exposure trips starting next month ahead of the showpiece events, including a ranking series at Almaty from June 2 to 5. Only medallists from the 2022 nationals and senior ranking series will be allowed to compete in the trials proposed in senior categories.
The WFI would also be holding selection trials for the U-17 cadet wrestlers on Monday in all 10 weight categories for the Asian and world championships.
The trials for men’s freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestlers will take place on Tuesday, at the Indira Gandhi Stadium in New Delhi in six Olympic weight categories.
Source/Credit By:- Hindustan Times.com