Wrestling: Blow to India as Bajrang Punia, Ravi Dahiya ruled out of qualification race for 2024 Paris Olympics

India’s chances of sealing a medal at the upcoming 2024 Paris Olympics suffered a blow as two of the top medal contenders in wrestling – Bajrang Punia and Ravi Dahiya, who won bronze and silver medals at the Tokyo Games three years ago, respectively, got knocked out from the qualification race. On Sunday (March 10), Bajrang and Ravi were eliminated after losing their respective bouts in the selection trials for the upcoming international tournaments.

Punia, one of the faces at a protest against now-suspended WFI chief Brij Bhushan Singh in the sexual harassment case, lost to Rohit Kumar 1-9 in the men’s freestyle 65kg semi-final clash. 

Earlier in the opening round, he barely beat his opponent Ravinder (3-3 on criteria). Had Ravindra not conceded a caution point, Punia would have been eliminated then only.

However, Punia left the Sports Authority of India (SAI) Centre in a hurry right after he lost. The National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) officials tried collecting samples for a regular dope test from Punia, but he did not stay for the third-fourth-place match.

Meanwhile, Punia trained in Russia for the trials arranged by the ad-hoc panel. Besides, Punia had also won the case in the Delhi High Court on the grounds that the suspended WFI had no authority to conduct trials. 

Dahiya also misses out

Not only Bajrang, but Ravi Dahiya also lost his chance of defending his medal or bettering it at the Summer Games in Paris this year. The silver medalist at the Tokyo Game, Dahiya lost a high-scoring opening bout 13-14 to a star-in-making Aman Sehrawat.

Making a comeback from injury, Dahiya lost his next bout to U20 Asian champion Udit and was eliminated from the qualification race right after. 

Meanwhile, Aman has started to make a name for himself in the wrestling circuit. The Asian Games bronze medalist won almost all tournaments the previous year when Dahiya did not compete due to his injury. 

However, the winners will compete at the Asian and World Olympic Qualifiers.

So far, only one Indian boxer has qualified for the Summer Games – Antim Panghal in the women’s 53 kg category. 

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