Young Wrestlers Move High Court, Challenge Bajrang Punia, Vinesh Phogat Trial Exemption


Wrestlers Antim Panghal and Sujeet Kalkal on Wednesday challenged in the Delhi High Court the exemption granted to Vinesh Phogat and Bajrang Punia for the Asian Games trials, demanding a fair selection process for the quadrennial showpiece. The joint petition of the two wrestlers was mentioned before Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma, who listed the matter for Thursday. The petition, moved by advocate Hrishikesh Baruah and Akshay Kumar, demanded that the directive issued by the IOA ad-hoc committee with regards to the two categories (men’s freestyle 65kg and women’s 53kg) be quashed and the exemption granted to Bajrang and Vinesh be set aside.

The petition demanded that the trials should be held in a fair manner, without grating any exemption to any wrestler and the whole process be videographed.

“These wrestlers had said during their protest at Jantar Mantar that their fight is for justice and for the cause of junior wrestlers and now they want to sideline the junior wresters, so we had to move court against this decision,” Dayanand Kalkal, father of Sujeet, told PTI.

“Since the beginning of their protest, the intention was to get exemptions from trials, that’s why we never sided with them. People were blind and could not see what their intention was.

“If these celebrity wrestlers beat the upcoming wrestlers and go, no one will complain. It indeed is a matter of pride that our kids get to compete against such accomplished athletes. There must be a fair trial,” he added.

Much to the exasperation of their competitors in the categories where Bajrang Punia (65kg) and Vinesh (53kg) compete, the IOA ad-hoc panel decided to exempt these two wrestlers from the trials on July 22-23.

As per the ad-hoc panel directive, the trials will be conducted in all 18 weight categories, including the 65kg and 53kg but the winners will not compete in the Asian Games, rather they will be standby options.

The 19-year-old Panghal, who hails from Hisar, and 21-year-old Sujeet, who trains in Sonepat, questioned the ad-hoc panel decision through separate videos.

Panghal asked what was special about Vinesh that she got exemption, exuding confidence that she can beat her in the trials.

Sujeet also said there are at least 5-6 wrestlers in the country in the 65kg category who are capable of beating Bajrang.

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