Sushil’s Tokyo goals over

Vinayak Padmadeo
Today News Online Service
New Delhi, April 22

A simple communication from the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) has virtually brought the curtain down on the Olympics journey of Sushil Kumar.

Though Sushil has not called time on his career, WFI has selected Amit Dhankar to represent India in the 74kg category at the World Olympic Games Qualifying Tournament, scheduled in Sofia on May 6-9. This has ended Sushil’s chances of representing India at the Tokyo Olympics. This, in fact, virtually ends his hopes of ever going back to the Olympics — in which he won medals in 2008 and 2012 — because by the time the next Olympics are held in Paris in 2024, he would be 41 years old.

Amit Dhankar replaced Sandeep Mann in the squad. file

Interestingly, the team for the Sofia tournament was selected without a trial as there was no time to organise it. Also, WFI did not want to hold a trial amidst the surge in Covid-19 cases in the country.

74kg category

As the team for Sofia was named, the big talking point was the 74kg weight division where the selection committee dropped the national champion Sandeep Mann for failing to grab his chances. Mann took part in the recent Asian Olympic Qualifiers in Almaty, Kazakhstan, where he lost in the semifinals. At the Asian Championships, Mann had lost in the quarterfinals.

Sushil won his two Olympics medals and the 2010 World Championships gold in the 66kg category, but later moved up to the 74kg class.

WFI decided to send Dhankar for the Sofia meet, which would be the last chance for wrestlers to qualify for the Tokyo Games. “Sandeep Mann, selected for Asian Qualifier and Asian Championship, did not give satisfactory performance. Hence, the Committee decided to give a chance to Amit Dhankar who secured 2nd position in the Selection Trial held on 16th March 2021,” WFI said in a statement.

Best wishes to Amit: Sushil

“I want to wish Amit the best for his selection. I am happy for him as both of us are trainees of Mahabali Satpalji,” Sushil told The Tribune today. “As for my chances, I was not in the running as I am not fit at all. Everyone knows I will fight only if I am fit.”

Sushil, who has represented India in three Olympics and won medals in 2008 Beijing (bronze) and 2012 London (silver), did not accept the suggestion that the development has ended his career.

Satyawart Kadian (97kg) and Sumit (125kg) are the other two wrestlers named in the freestyle team for Sofia.

In the Greco-Roman discipline, WFI has similarly changed two names, selecting Sachin Rana (60kg) Deepanshu (97kg), who had secured the second position in trials.

WFI said the wrestlers originally selected in these weight categories — Gyanendra and Ravi — had given “poor performances” in the Asian Qualifier and Asian Championship.

Men’s squad

Freestyle: Amit Dhankar (74kg), Satyavart Kadian (97kg) and Sumit (125kg)

Greco-Roman: Sachin Rana (60kg), Aashu (67kg), Gurpreet Singh (77kg), Sunil (87kg), Deepanshu (97kg), Naveen Kumar (130kg)

Women’s squad

Seema (50kg), Nisha (68kg), Pooja (76kg)

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