SAI centre in Sonepat buzzing again with protesting wrestlers joining others for Asian Games trials

New Delhi: IOC approaches the Olympic Council of Asia asking if they can submit the wrestling squad by August 10.

BY and | Monday, 19 June, 2023

The Sports Authority of India (SAI) centre in Sonepat is buzzing again with protesting wrestlers joining several of their colleagues to prepare for the Asian Games trials.

Vinesh Phogat, one of the prominent faces of the protest against the WFI chief and BJP MP Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, had visited the centre on June 9 for practice while her cousin sister Geeta Phogat also hit the mat for the trials.

Geeta, who had made a comeback to competitive wrestling after a maternity break at the National Championship in Gonda in November 2021, is being accompanied by her husband Pawan Saroha, also a wrestler.

Sangeeta, younger sister of Geeta, is also accompanying her husband and Tokyo Games bronze medallist Bajrang Punia to the centre.

The women wrestlers assemble for National Camp at SAI centre in Lucknow but in the wake of agitation against the WFI chief, it was moved out from the Uttar Pradesh capital.

“The protesting wrestlers have been away from the mat for a long time. Mostly they are spending time in gym. Sangeeta is also working on strength building,” said a SAI source.

“Vinesh had joined the centre as early as June 9. Geeta Phogat has also been coming regularly. It seems normalcy is returning to the complex,” added the official.

Bajrang and his sparring partner Jitender Kinha have already started practising at the Bahalgarh centre, where national camp for men’s freestyle and Greco Roman wrestlers is held throughout the year.

On Friday, the wrestlers had approached the Sports Ministry, requesting that the trials be held in August since they can’t be ready for the competition if trials are held later this month.

The IOA, which has already asked all national federations to submit the final list of their squads by June 30, has approached the Olympic Council of Asia, asking if it can submit the wrestling squad by August 10.

The IOA is required to send names of all participating Indian players to the OCA by July 15.

The wrestlers had restarted their sit at Jantar Mantar on April 23 and were there till May 28, the day Delhi police detained them for violation of law and order.

They had also practiced for a few days at the Railways stadium near the protest site but could not continue due to the protest where they were required to meet visitors.

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