Much-improved Jitender Kumar on Friday prevailed in an intense 74kg trial bout to qualify for the season-opener in Italy and the Asian Championship in New Delhi next month. Medal-winning performances at the next two events for him can shut the Tokyo 2020 doors for celebrated and India’s most decorated Olympian grappler Sushil Kumar.
World Championship stars Deepak Punia (86kg) and Ravi Dahiya (57kg) did not have to break much sweat as they were given direct entries in the final which they won easily. Sumit Malik (125kg) and Satyawart Kadian (97kg) also locked their places with smart victories over their opponents.
Competing in the most competitive category of the day, Jitender prevailed 5-2 in the final against Amit Dhankar.
The Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) had earlier announced that winner of the Friday’s trials will compete at the Ranking Series event in Italy (January 15-18), Asian Championships in New Delhi (February 18-23) and the Asian Olympic qualifiers in Xian (March 27-29). WFI President Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh though have hinted that fresh trials can take place ahead of the Xian event.
It means that if Jitender has to earn a shot at the Tokyo Olympic qualification, he will have to impress the WFI with medal-winning performances in Rome and New Delhi.
“If we find that performances of our wrestlers is not satisfying at the first two events, we can have fresh trials to select wrestlers for the Asian Olympic qualifier. We want to send our best wrestler, so that India can have maximum number of quotas for Olympics,” said the WFI president.
Sushil Kumar, India’s most decorated wrestler with two Olympic medals did not compete in Friday’s trials, citing an injury. Hel had beaten Jitender in a bitterly-fought trials bout for the World Championships in September 2019.
“If we are happy with performance of our wrestlers in Olympic categories, where we have not got the quota, we will not have trials. As for Sushil, no one will be allowed to go for Olympic qualifiers, without having to compete in trials,” the WFI president added.
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