Home » Sujeet Kalkal Questions Trial Exemption Franted to Bajrang Punia

Sujeet Kalkal Questions Trial Exemption Franted to Bajrang Punia

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Wrestler Bajrang Punia during the wrestlers’ protest at Jantar Mantar (Image: PTI File)

Sujeet Kalkal challenged that there are at least 5-6 wrestlers in the 65kg freestyle category who are capable of beating Bajrang Punia.

The reigning U23 Asian champion Sujeet Kalkal on Wednesday slammed the IOA ad-hoc committee for granting direct entry to Bajrang Punia for the Asian Games, saying it was unfair on the next generation wrestlers who aspire to become Olympic champions.

The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) ad-hoc panel, led by Bhupender Singh Bajwa, on Tuesday exempted Tokyo Olympic bronze medallist Bajrang (65kg freestyle) Vinesh Phogat (53kg) from the Asian Games trials on July 22-23 here.

Kalkal, the U20 world championship bronze medallist, said that there are at least 5-6 wrestlers in the 65kg freestyle category who are capable of beating Bajrang.

“I had wrestled with Bajrang a year back during the (Birmingham) Commonwealth Games trials, which was very close. During the trials, Bajrang was handed a direct semifinals entry and we had to contest all the bouts,” said Kalkal, the reigning senior national champion and last year’s Junior Asian gold medallist.

Proving his point further, Kalkal said he had recently defeated American John Michael Diakomihalis by a comprehensive 8-2 margin while Bajrang had lost to the same wrestler by technical superiority in the World Championships last year.

“For the World Championships too (in 2022), Bajrang was given entry to compete without trials. The American wrestler (Yianni Diakomihalis) against whom Bajrang lost 0-10, I have beaten him the World Ranking series 8-2.”

Sujeet had won that Ranking Series event held in Tunis in July 2022.

“I don’t say that only I can beat Bajrang. There are no less than 5-6 wrestlers in our weight category who can beat Bajrang. That’s why all the wrestlers should get equal opportunity and a fair trial should be held.

“It is also my dream to become an Olympic champion but if these wrestlers (like Bajrang and Vinesh) keep getting direct entries, then how will we fulfil our dreams,” he added.

Asian Games will begin in the Chinese city of Hangzhou from September 23.

(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed – PTI)

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