Vinesh Phogat Secures Olympic Qualification, Demands Assurance for 53kg Trial

Vinesh Phogat Secures Olympic Qualification, Demands Assurance for 53kg Trial

Vinesh Phogat, India’s star wrestler, has secured her place in the Paris Olympics Qualification tournament in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, after winning the 50kg weight category at the selection trials. However, her participation in the trials was marked by controversy as she demanded a written assurance from the authorities that a final trial will be held in the 53kg weight class before the Olympics.

Phogat, who won the gold medal in the 50kg category at the 2018 Jakarta Asian Games, initially refused to compete in the 50kg trials, citing her desire to participate in both the 50kg and 53kg categories. This led to a delay in the start of the trials, as officials discussed her request.

Eventually, the ad-hoc committee for wrestling agreed to Phogat’s demand, allowing her to compete in both weight categories on Monday. Phogat defeated Shivani 11-6 in the 50kg category, but lost to Anju by technical superiority 0-10 in the 53kg bout.

Phogat’s demand for a written assurance stems from her previous allegations of sexual harassment against former Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) President Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh. She fears that if the WFI regains control, the federation may change the selection policy and prevent her from competing in the 53kg category at the Olympics.

The IOA ad-hoc panel has already announced that a final trial will be held to pick India’s representative in the 53kg category. The best four wrestlers in the weight class will compete in trials near the Games, and the winner will face Antim Panghal, who has already earned an Olympic quota in that category. The winner of that bout will represent India at the Olympics.

Phogat’s participation in the trials and her demand for a written assurance highlight the ongoing power struggle within the WFI. The federation has been embroiled in controversy since Phogat’s allegations against Singh, and the ad-hoc committee was appointed to oversee the sport until the matter is resolved.