Wrestling Trails: Vinesh Phogat Wins In 50kg But Loses Semis Of 53 Kg

Keen to ensure that she remains in reckoning for the Paris Games, star wrestler Vinesh Phogat did not let the selection trials start in the women’s 50kg and 53kg categories and demanded a written assurance from the authorities that a final trial will be held in the 53kg weight class before the Olympics.

Following the ad-hoc committee for wrestling acceding to her demand, Vinesh, the Jakarta Asian Games gold medallist, defeated Shivani 11-6 in the 50kg weight category to book a place in the Paris Olympics Qualification tournament in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan next month. She, however, lost the 53kg bout to Anju by technical superiority 0-10.

Vinesh, who had accused former WFI President Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh of sexual harassment and led a prolonged protest against the BJP MP, turned up at the SAI centre in the morning to compete in the 50kg trials.

As per Article 7 of the United World Wrestling (UWW) a contestant can be allowed to take part in one weight category on a single day, but Vinesh appeared in trials in two separate weight categories on Monday.

“Each contestant deemed to be taking part of his/her own free will, and responsible for himself/herself, shall be allowed to compete in only one weight category: the one corresponding to his weight at the time of the official weigh-in,” rules Article 7 of the UWW.

The 29-year-old used to compete in 53kg before the protest but has lowered her weight class since Antim Panghal has already earned an Olympic quota in that category. However, Vinesh did not let the competition start and demanded a written assurance. She also sought permission to compete in both 50kg and 53kg trials on Monday, leading to a bizarre situation.

The officials went into discussions. The wrestlers, competing in the 50kg weight class, also complained to the officials regarding the delay.

“We are waiting since the past two and half hours,” they said.

This despite the IOA ad-hoc panel already announcing that a final trial will be held to pick India’s representative in 53kg. The best four wrestlers in 53kg will compete in trials near the Games and the winner will be asked to compete with Antim. The winner of that bout will represent India.

“Vinesh wants an assurance from the government. Probably she fears that if WFI gets back the control, the federation may change the selection policy. But how can the government give assurance on this? The government can’t interfere in selection matters,” a coach, present at the trials, told.