Bajrang Punia and 4 others opt out of Zagreb Open, ad-hoc panel picks 13-member wrestling team

Panghal (53kg), Pooja Gehlot (50kg), Mansi Ahlawat (57kg), Kiran (76kg), who were part of the Indian team which competed in Hangzhou, also declined selection

Recently, Punia also returned his Padma Shri in protest over the election of Sanjay Singh (Photo: @DDNewsLive/X )
Recently, Punia also returned his Padma Shri in protest over the election of Sanjay Singh (Photo: @DDNewsLive/X )
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PTI

India will go unrepresented in five categories at the upcoming Zagreb Open in Croatia as Bajrang Punia, Antim Panghal and three others didn't give consent for their selection to the ad-hoc panel that announced a 13-member team on Tuesday, 2 January.

Senior Worlds bronze medallist Panghal made herself unavailable as she wants to attend the national sports award ceremony where she will be conferred with the prestigious Arjuna award, while Olympic bronze medallist Bajrang, who had returned empty handed from the Asian Games, also decided to give it a miss.

Bajrang, one of the prominent faces of the wrestlers' protest against Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, was the only one missing in men's freestyle as the ad-hoc panel picked Aman Sehrawat (57kg), Yash (74kg), Deepak Punia (86kg), Vicky (97kg) and Sumit Malik (125kg) -- all who had participated at the Hangzhou Asian Games.

"We had sought the consent of the wrestlers who were part of the Asian Games squad and only 13 gave their consent while five others didn't," Bhupinder Singh Bajwa, the head of the ad-hoc panel, told PTI.

When asked about his absence, Bajrang said he has not yet started mat training, so it was futile to be part of the Indian team.

"I had recently undergone a thumb surgery. I have not yet started mat training. There is no point going to a tournament without proper practice. I have resumed fitness training though," Bajrang told PTI.

Panghal, who had won a bronze medal at the Asian Games, was not available for a comment but her coach Vikas Bhardwaj said that she has opted out of the tournament because her ward has to attend the sports awards ceremony on 9 January, a day before the competition starts in Zagreb.

The team for the first world ranking tournament in the Croatian capital, which will be held from 10 to 14 January, was picked after issues related to procurement of visas had been looked into.

Panghal (53kg), Pooja Gehlot (50kg), Mansi Ahlawat (57kg), Kiran (76kg), who were part of the Indian team which competed in Hangzhou, also didn't give their consent, forcing the ad-hoc body to select just two wrestlers in women's freestyle -- Sonam Malik (62kg) and Radhika (68kg) for the Ranking Series event.

The WFI is being run by a three-member committee constituted by the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) after the Sports Ministry suspended the Sanjay Singh-led newly-elected national federation owing to violation of its own constitution.


"Thanks to a timely intervention by the Ministry of External Affairs, the 25 Indians due to travel to Zagreb will complete the visa formalities on Wednesday," Bajwa said in a press release.

"The team was facing difficulty in securing a visa appointment. However, the Ministry of External Affairs has helped the team in this regard."

The team:

Men Freestyle: Aman (57kg); Yash (74kg), Deepak Punia (86kg), Vicky (97kg) and Sumit (125kg).

Greco-Roman: Gyanender (60kg), Neeraj (67kg), Vikas (77kg), Sunil Kumar (87kg), Narinder Cheema (97kg) and Naveen (130kg).

Women: Sonam (62kg) and Radhika (68kg).

Coaching and support staff: Kuldeep Singh (team leader and coach), Vinod Kumar, Sujeet, Shashi Bhushan Prasad, Manoj Kumar, Virender Singh and Alka Tomar (coaches); Vishal Kumar Rai (physiotherapist) and Neeraj (masseur).

Referees: Satya Dev Malik, Dinesh Dhondiba Gund and Sanjay Kumar.

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Published: 03 Jan 2024, 11:14 AM
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