Can Sakshi Malik keep her Olympic dreams alive? D-day on Wednesday

By   - 25/02/2020

Sonam Malik‘s failure at Asian Wrestling Championships and Rome Rankings Series has given another lifeline to Sakshi Malik for pursuing her Tokyo 2020  Olympic goals.

The Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) has announced national selection trials in the women’s 62 kg and 76 kg, and Greco-Roman 60 kg categories for the upcoming Asian Olympic Qualifiers, slated from March 27 to 29 in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.

Also Read: Sushil’s Olympic hopes shattered; Jitender confirmed for Asian Qualifiers

Asian Wrestling Championships 2020 Highlights, News, Videos, Photos, Results and Rankings on WrestlingTV.in

The window of opportunity has opened for Sakshi as he secured a silver medal at the Asian Wrestling Championships in New Delhi last week. Now she would target to seal a place in the Indian team for the Olympic Qualifiers. The trials will be held in Lucknow on February 26.

“I will be competing in the 62kg Olympic category in which I had won my maiden Olympics medal. This is a big opportunity for me and I will make full use of it and make my way to the (Asian Olympic) Qualifiers. I still have to take care of some mistakes because of which I lost to Japan’s Naomi Ruike,” Sakshi told WrestlingTV after the final at KD Jadhav Wrestling hall in Indira Gandhi Indoor stadium.

Sakshi will also have an opportunity to establish that her defeat to rookie Sonam at the trials ahead of the Rome Ranking Series last month was just one bad match. Sonam had failed to capitalise on the opportunity. Since she did not make an impact for herself in Rome and the New Delhi Asian Championships, Sakshi is back in contention.

When asked if she will challenge Sonam in the re-trials, Sakshi was quick to quip, “I will not challenge anybody. Sonam is an opponent and very junior to me. She wants to make a name for herself in wrestling and so do I. The better wrestler will be chosen for the qualifiers.”

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Sakshi was not satisfied with her performance in the (Asian) Championships because she faltered in her attack and could not win the top honours in a non-Olympic category. “I am disappointed with my performance because I could not bag gold in a non-Olympic category. I need to work on my attacks which I was slow in executing this time.” Sakshi sighed.

The governing body has also announced trials in the 76kg women’s and 60kg Greco-Roman category after Kiran (76kg) and Gyanender Singh (60kg) failed performance in the Rome Ranking Series last month and the recently-concluded Asian Championships.

The trials for the Greco-Roman will take place in Sonepat on February 26.

India has already booked four Olympic berths –three in freestyle and one in women’s wrestling. In Olympics nation can field up to six wrestlers in six different weight categories. Thus, India still has 14 Olympic Wrestling spots up for grabs. “After the selection trials in January, the WFI had made it clear that wrestlers’ performance in Rome and New Delhi will be taken into account before picking up the squad for the Asian qualifier,” New Indian Express reported.

Other Olympic categories where India failed to secure a medal are 125kg freestyle and 130kg Greco-Roman. India’s first choice Sumit Malik and Naveen were injured ahead of the Asian Championships and will reportedly be given preference for the qualifiers.

Moreover, WFI has decided not to conduct any trials in the 74kg freestyle category. It means Asian Championships silver medallist Jitender will be flying to Kyrgyzstan and thus shutting the door on two-time Olympic medallist Sushil Kumar.

Wrestling (Kushti) fans can catch Live Streaming, Highlights, News, Videos, Photos, Results and Rankings on WrestlingTV

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