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Can Bajrang Punia, Ravi Dahiya still qualify for Paris Olympics 2024?

Published at :March 15, 2024 at 9:30 AM
Modified at :March 15, 2024 at 9:30 AM
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(Courtesy :

Abhiruchi Rout

Both Olympic medallists lost in the national selection trials for the Asian and World Olympic qualifiers.

Tokyo Olympics medalists Bajrang Punia and Ravi Kumar Dahiya were defeated in the national trials held for the men’s freestyle 65kg and 57kg categories, respectively, as part of the qualification race for the Paris Olympics 2024.

Bajrang Punia lost against Rohit Kumar by 1-9 in the semifinals, bowing out of the qualification race. Meanwhile, Dahiya had a daunting challenge in his opening bout itself as he fought against the reigning Asian Champion Aman Sehrawat.

Although the match was a high-scoring affair, Ravi Kumar Dahiya lost to the 2022 Asiad bronze medalist Aman by 13-14 in the bout. He then went on to lose his next bout against the U20 Asian Champion Udit and was eliminated.

Owing to this, both Punia and Dahiya won’t be a part of the Indian squad that will be competing at the Asian Qualification Tournament (between April 19 to 21 in Kyrgyzstan) and World Qualification Tournament (May 9 to 12 in Turkey).

However, there still remains an opportunity for the two to qualify for the Paris Olympics provided that India secure quota places in the 65kg and 57kg events. If the ad-hoc committee, formed by the Indian Olympic Association (IOA), continues to be in power, there will be another trial held on May 31.

The winner from this trial will meet the Olympic quota holder, and the wrestler who wins will be chosen to represent India at the 2024 Olympics, as per the ad-hoc committee.

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Since the United World Wrestling (UWW) recently gave notice to the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) to choose and announce teams for major competitions, the Indian body joined hands with the ad-hoc panel to send the team for the Paris Olympic qualification events, i.e., the Asian and World Qualifiers.

But, in the coming future, if Sanjay Singh’s federation resumes power, the selection policies for Paris 2024 may change. It will then be up to the committee to go with the format proposed by the Ad-hoc panel (holding a final trial and asking the trial winners to fight against quota-place holders) or just send the quota winners directly to represent the nation at the Paris Games without holding any trials.

It is worth noting that only Antim Panghal has bagged a Paris Olympics quota for India in the women’s 53kg category after winning the bronze medal at the 2023 World Wrestling Championships.

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