Amit Panghal Returns to India Boxing Team for Paris Olympics Qualifier

Amit Panghal Returns to India Boxing Team for Paris Olympics Qualifier

Amit Panghal, a renowned Indian boxer, has been reinstated into the national team for the upcoming Paris Olympics qualifier in Bangkok, scheduled from May 25th. This decision comes after India’s disappointing performance at the previous qualifier in Italy, where the men’s team failed to secure any Olympic quota spots.

In a bid to improve their chances, several changes have been made to the squad. Panghal, a Tokyo Olympian and gold medalist at the Strandja Memorial tournament in February, has replaced Deepak Bhoria in the 51kg class. Bhoria, a world championship medalist, had two opportunities to seal an Olympic quota but failed to do so.

Other notable changes include the exclusion of world championship medalist Mohd Hussamuddin in the 57kg category and seasoned boxer Shiva Thapa in the 63.5kg class. Sachin Siwach and young Abhinash Jamwal will take their places, respectively.

Nishant Dev, who performed well in the previous qualifier, has retained his spot in the 71kg category. Sanjeet (92kg) and Narender Berwal (+92kg) have also been given another chance to secure Olympic berths.

In the women’s category, India has already secured four of the six Olympic quotas through their strong performance at the 2023 Hangzhou Asian Games. Ankushita Boro has replaced Jasmine Lamboria in the 60kg class, while two-time world junior medalist Arundhati Chaudhary will compete in the 66kg category.

The Indian team will be hoping for a strong showing in Bangkok as they aim to secure the remaining Olympic quota spots. The selection process was conducted through an evaluation process by coaches in the national camp, following the resignation of India’s high-performance coach Bernard Dunne.

Vinesh Phogat Accuses WFI of Obstructing Olympic Qualification Bid

Vinesh Phogat Accuses WFI of Obstructing Olympic Qualification Bid

Wrestler Vinesh Phogat has accused the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) of attempting to hinder her participation in the Olympic Qualifiers by creating logistical obstacles for her support staff. Phogat, a 29-year-old bronze medalist in the 53kg category at the 2019 and 2022 World Championships, also expressed concerns about being implicated in a doping case.

The WFI, however, has denied these allegations, stating that Phogat’s request for accreditation of her coach and physio came after the deadline for entry submissions had expired. The federation claims to have sent the entries of players, coaches, and medical staff to the world governing body UWW on March 15, after UWW extended the deadline slightly.

Phogat, who is aiming for an Olympic quota in the 50kg category at the Asian qualifying tournament in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, has alleged that WFI President Brij Bhushan and his associates are trying to prevent her from competing. She expressed fears that her water could be tampered with during her match, leading to a potential doping violation.

The WFI has clarified that it has no objection to Phogat traveling with her personal coach and physio but that she must obtain accreditation from UWW herself. The federation maintains that it has already registered the support staff and did not receive any instructions from the Ministry or SAI to add Phogat’s coach to the list.

Phogat’s allegations come amidst ongoing tensions between her and the WFI. She was one of the three wrestlers who led a protest against former WFI President Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, accusing him of sexual harassment. Singh was granted bail in July after a case was filed against him by Delhi Police.

Phogat has questioned whether the difficulties she is facing are a result of her involvement in the protest. She has expressed hope that justice will be served before she represents India at the Olympic Qualifiers.

Savita Punia: Indian Women's Hockey Captain Grapples with Olympic Qualifiers Heartbreak

Savita Punia: Indian Women’s Hockey Captain Grapples with Olympic Qualifiers Heartbreak

The Indian women’s hockey team’s failure to qualify for the Paris Olympics has left a profound impact on captain Savita Punia. The team’s fourth-place finish in Tokyo just three years ago had raised hopes, but the recent setback has shattered those dreams.

Punia, known as the “Great Wall” of Indian hockey, has been grappling with the disappointment. “Losing the Olympic qualifiers is such a bad moment that we will probably not be able to forget our entire life,” she said. “I haven’t been able to get over it yet.”

In the aftermath of the qualifiers, Punia sought solace in yoga and meditation. She also returned to the field quickly, competing in the FIH Pro League and the ongoing Nationals in Pune. “The good thing about sports is that you have to forget the past and move forward very quickly,” she explained.

Despite her efforts to move on, Punia admits that the pain of missing out on the Olympics lingers. “We were confident and well-prepared, but you cannot predict anything in sports,” she said. “We all did our best and our preparation was very good. It’s a lot about luck also.”

Punia’s husband has been a source of support during this difficult time. “He said that we could not change what happened but can look ahead and play as long as you want to play,” she said.

The Indian team will now focus on the upcoming Pro League matches in Belgium in May-June. Punia believes that a new core group will emerge after the Nationals, and she is prepared for the changes. “Now a new core group will be formed and some new players will also come,” she said. “The focus will be on fitness and drag flicks.”

Despite the disappointment of missing out on the Olympics, Punia remains committed to hockey. “Hockey is my passion and the more I stay away from the field, the more it will bother me,” she said.

Aman Sehrawat Overcomes Mental Hurdle to Defeat Ravi Dahiya in Olympic Qualifier Trials

Aman Sehrawat Overcomes Mental Hurdle to Defeat Ravi Dahiya in Olympic Qualifier Trials

The Commonwealth Games trials proved to be a turning point for 20-year-old wrestler Aman Sehrawat. Facing Olympic silver medalist Ravi Dahiya, Aman suffered a humiliating 10-0 defeat. However, this setback ignited a fire within him, as he realized the need to overcome the mental pressure that had hindered his performance.

Inspired by Dahiya, Aman had always looked up to him as a mentor and guide. But to achieve his Olympic dream, he knew he had to break free from the reverence he held for his idol. Since the trials, Aman has meticulously studied the replay of that match, identifying his weaknesses and vowing to avoid repeating the same mistakes.

“I realized I was not competing with a free mind,” Aman said. “I was playing with the pressure of competing against an Olympic medalist. He was dictating the pace, and I was simply getting drawn into his gameplan.”

To prepare for the Olympic qualifiers, Aman stopped sparring with Dahiya and focused on improving his technique and mental fortitude. He drew inspiration from Dahiya’s journey, knowing that if his mentor could overcome adversity to win an Olympic medal, so could he.

“Beating him in the trials was not easy,” Aman admitted. “I have not gone a single day without watching the replay of the CWG trials, including today. I worked on my weaknesses and stopped sparring with him. We were training with different partners.”

Their similar wrestling styles resulted in a thrilling high-scoring bout in the Olympic qualifier trials, where Aman emerged victorious with a narrow 14-13 margin. Despite his triumph, Aman acknowledged Dahiya’s struggles after returning from injury.

“You know it is not easy when you have surgery and do not compete enough,” Aman said. “Ravi gained weight after injury, and it has taken him time to return to the mat.”

Aman is now determined to secure an Olympic quota and continue the legacy of his weight class, which has produced renowned wrestlers like Yogeshwar Dutt and Ravi Dahiya.

Similarly, 22-year-old Sujeet Kalkal carries the weight of representing India in the 65kg category, previously dominated by Bajrang Punia. Despite not facing Punia in the trials, Sujeet displayed composure and defeated Rohit by superiority in the final.

“I have been working on this trial for a long time,” Sujeet said. “I won titles in National Games and National Championships. So, I kept giving myself small goals and prepared along the way for the trials.”

Sujeet’s technical prowess and international experience, including victories over world-class wrestlers, give him confidence in his ability to succeed on the international stage.

“This is a weight class where you need speed, stamina, strength, everything,” Sujeet said. “I am young and still developing my strength and improving day by day. My game is technical like most international competitors.”

WFI Withdraws Parallel Selection Trials for Asian Wrestling Championships

WFI Withdraws Parallel Selection Trials for Asian Wrestling Championships

The Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) has withdrawn its notice for selection trials for the Senior Asian Wrestling Championships 2024 and Asian Olympic Games Qualifier Wrestling Tournament, scheduled for March 10-11. This decision came after the Delhi High Court intervened, stating that there cannot be two parallel trials.

The court directed that the trials will proceed as per the WFI Ad Hoc Committee’s February 9 circular, which called for wrestlers to participate in the same event on the same dates. All eligible candidates will be allowed to participate.

The court’s decision came in response to a plea filed by four wrestlers, including Bajrang Punia, Vinesh Phogat, Sakshi Malik, and her husband Satyawart. The wrestlers challenged WFI’s February 26 notice, claiming that the federation had deliberately issued it despite being barred by the Union Sports Ministry from conducting championships.

The plea also stated that the ministry’s January 7 notice, which restrained WFI from conducting competitions, was still in operation. The ministry had categorically stated that any championships organized by the former’s suspended executive committee would be treated as unsanctioned and unrecognized.

During the hearing, WFI’s senior advocate Dayanan Krishnan initially argued that the United World Wrestling (UWW) would not recognize a team not sent by the elected WFI. However, he later withdrew the circular dated February 26, 2024, without prejudice to his rights and contentions.

The court emphasized that there should be no parallel selection trials and that the trials should proceed as per the ad hoc committee’s circular. The ad hoc committee is responsible for ensuring that all eligible athletes are permitted to participate.

The wrestlers’ plea also sought to declare WFI’s December 21, 2023 elections as illegal. However, the court did not address this issue, as the wrestlers had not made the successful candidates as parties.

The Union Sports Ministry suggested that both WFI and the ad hoc committee should put forth dual suggestions regarding the trials. The ministry’s primary concern is that medalists should represent India under the national flag.

Pakistani Boxer Disappears in Italy, Steals from Teammate

Pakistani Boxer Disappears in Italy, Steals from Teammate

Pakistani Boxer Vanishes in Italy After Stealing from Teammate

A Pakistani boxer, Zohaib Rasheed, has disappeared in Italy after allegedly stealing money from a teammate’s bag, casting a shadow over the country’s Olympic aspirations.

Rasheed, a rising star in Pakistan’s boxing scene, had traveled to Italy as part of a five-member squad for an Olympic qualifying tournament. However, his actions have brought shame upon the Pakistan Amateur Boxing Federation (PABF) and the nation.

According to PABF secretary Colonel Nasir Ahmed, Rasheed took advantage of his teammate Laura Ikram’s absence during training to steal foreign currency from her purse. He then vanished from the hotel, leaving his team and officials in shock.

“It is most embarrassing for the federation and country the way Zohaib Rasheed has behaved,” Ahmed said. “He had gone there as part of a squad to take part in an Olympic qualifying tournament.”

Rasheed’s disappearance is not an isolated incident. In the past, Pakistani athletes have used international competitions as an opportunity to seek a better future abroad.

The PABF has notified the Pakistan Embassy in Italy and filed a police report. Authorities are actively searching for Rasheed, but he remains out of contact.

Rasheed’s actions have not only tarnished Pakistan’s reputation but also raised questions about the integrity of the national boxing program. The PABF is now facing scrutiny over its selection process and the measures in place to prevent such incidents.

The incident has cast a pall over Pakistan’s Olympic hopes. Rasheed was considered a potential medal contender, and his absence will be a significant blow to the team’s chances of qualifying for the Tokyo Games.

India's Bhoria Loses in World Olympic Boxing Qualifier Opener

India’s Bhoria Loses in World Olympic Boxing Qualifier Opener

India’s Olympic boxing aspirations suffered a setback at the World Olympic Boxing Qualifier in Busto Arsizio, Italy, as Deepak Bhoria (51kg) succumbed to a 2-3 split verdict against Azerbaijan’s Huseynov Nijat on the opening day.

Bhoria, who had edged out 2019 World Championships silver medalist Amit Panghal for a spot in the Indian squad, faced a formidable opponent in Nijat. The Azerbaijani boxer’s pace and agility proved too much for Bhoria in the first two rounds, which he lost by identical 2-3 scorelines.

Undeterred, Bhoria rallied in the final round, delivering some impressive blows to secure a 4-1 victory. However, it was not enough to overcome the deficit from the earlier rounds.

Despite Bhoria’s defeat, India still has hopes of securing Olympic quotas through Asian Games bronze medalist Narender (92kg) and Commonwealth Games 2022 bronze medalist Jaismine (60kg), who will face Germany’s Nelvie Tiafack and Japan’s Ayaka Taguchi respectively later on Sunday.

The World Olympic Boxing Qualifier offers 49 quotas for the Paris Olympics, including 28 for men and 21 for women. India has already secured four quotas for the Games.

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