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Antim, Sujeet Move Delhi HC, Challenge Trial Exemption Given To Bajrang, Vinesh

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New Delhi: Wrestlers Antim Panghal and Sujeet Kalkal have filed a petition in the Delhi High Court challenging the exemption granted to Vinesh Phogat and Bajrang Punia from participating in the Asian Games trials. Challenging the exemption granted, they are seeking a fair selection process for the quadrennial showpiece event.

In their petition, the wrestlers have requested that the trials be conducted in a manner that ensures fairness and equality for all participants. Additionally, they demanded the entire selection process be videographed, and no exceptions should be given to any wrestler.

The petition has been listed for Thursday by Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma.

Vinesh (53kg) and Bajrang Punia (65kg) were exempted from the selection trials for the 2023 Asian Games by the Indian Olympic Association’s ad hoc committee on Tuesday, while other wrestlers will have to book their places in the Indian squad through selection trials on July 22 and 23.

Questioning Vinesh’s performance over the last year, the 19-year-old wrestler said, “Last year, I won gold in the Junior World Championships and became the first woman wrestler from India to do so. In the 2023 Asian Championships, I won silver. Vinesh, on the other hand, has no achievements to show and hasn’t practised as well in the last year; she was also injured.”

“They are also saying that the one who goes for the Asian Games will also go for the World Championships. And the one who wins a medal at Worlds will go to the Olympics (in Paris). We have also been training hard for years. So, what about us? Should I quit wrestling?”

Panghal, who is a silver medallist from the senior Asian Championship and competes in the same weight category as Vinesh, recalled a similar incident from the Commonwealth Games trials last year.

“Even in the Commonwealth Games trial, I had a 3-3 bout with her. Then, too, I was cheated. I said, ‘koi nahin (it’s okay), I will try to qualify for the Olympics by going to the (Hangzhou) Asian Games’. But now they are saying they will send Vinesh. This is not done,” said Panghal in a video circulated on social media.

Panghal also raised doubts over Sakshi Malik’s omission, as the latter is an Olympic medallist. “Sakshi Malik has also won an Olympic medal; she too is not being sent. What is so special about Vinesh that she is being sent? Just organise trials. I am not saying that I will defeat Vinesh. There are many female wrestlers out there who can do so.”

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