WFI maintains unchanged squad for Olympic Qualifiers in Istanbul amid time constraints


The Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) has made a crucial decision ahead of the final Olympic Qualifying tournament in Istanbul, Turkey. Due to time constraints, the WFI has opted to retain almost the identical squad that competed in the Asian Qualifiers in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.

The Asian Qualifiers in Bishkek served as a crucial stepping stone for Indian wrestlers aiming to secure quota places for the Tokyo Olympics. However, dissatisfaction with the Indian men’s team’s performance in Bishkek led the WFI to consider fresh trials for the final Olympic Qualifying event.

The roster for the World Olympic Games Qualifiers (WOGQ) in Istanbul, scheduled from May 9-13, will largely mirror the lineup from the previous event in Bishkek. Notably, three wrestlers—Vinesh Phogat (50kg), Anshu Malik (57kg), and U23 world champion Reetika (76kg)—will not feature in the squad. They have already secured quota places in Bishkek last month.

No time to conduct fresh trials as WFI goes with the same squad

The tight timeframe between the Asian Olympic qualifiers and the upcoming event in Istanbul left little room for fresh trials. Even if the WFI had a one-month gap, conducting trials would have been challenging for wrestlers. Losing weight twice within a short span for both trials and competition is physically demanding.

Indian grapplers stand a good chance of clinching additional Paris Games berths in Istanbul. A total of 54 Olympic quota places are up for grabs across the six weight classes in the three wrestling styles. Each weight category offers three Paris Olympic spots: one each to the two finalists and one to the winner of the playoff between the two bronze medallists.

Greco-Roman wrestling will kick off the competition on May 9, followed by women’s wrestling and freestyle events concluding on May 13.

In summary, while the WFI faced time constraints, their decision to maintain continuity with the existing squad reflects a strategic approach. As Indian wrestlers prepare for the final Olympic Qualifiers, the spotlight remains on Istanbul, where dreams of securing coveted Olympic berths will unfold.

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