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'I Was Cheated': Antim Panghal Slams Decisison To Give Vinesh Phogat Direct Entry For Asian Games

Sources had said that WFI panel had given Bajrang and Vinesh direct entry to participate in the upcoming Asian games, Hangzhou, without appearing in national trials.

'I Was Cheated': Antim Panghal Slams Decisison To Give Vinesh Phogat Direct Entry For Asian Games Antim, on left, and Vinesh Phogat, on right. (Source: Twitter)

Woman wrestler Antim Panghal has raised questions over the exemption given to wrestlers Bajrang Punia and Vinesh Phogat for direct entry into the Asian Games 2023 by the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) ad-hoc panel and said “a fair trial should be conducted”. Reigning Under-20 World Champion Panghal released a video where she highlighted her achievements in the past year. "Vinesh (Phogat) is being sent directly, she doesn't have any achievements in the last year but despite that, she is being sent directly. Even in the Commonwealth Games trial, I had a 3-3 bout with her. Then too, I was cheated...A fair trial should be conducted," Panghal said.

"Last year, in the Junior World Championships, I won a gold medal and became the first woman wrestler from India to achieve this feat. In the 2023 Asian Championships, I won a silver medal, but Vinesh has no achievement to show in the last one year. She was also injured," she added.

According to sources, there is a rule in the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) that if there is any situation where Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) athletes need exemption (world champions and Olympic medalists) they can get it.

Rio Olympics bronze medalist Sakshi Malik didn't receive an exemption because she is not a TOPS athlete and has to appear for trials. Antim Panghalm who turned emotional,  said athletes like her have been training hard and should have “fair” chance to qualify.

“I will try to qualify for the Olympics by attending the (Hangzhou) Asian Games. But now they are saying they will send Vinesh. This is not done," Panghal said. Vinesh Phogat had withdrawn from the Budapest Ranking Series 2023 due to illness on the eve of the competition.

"I just want to know, why she has been given direct entry, on what merit she is going to Asian games. Sakshi Malik has also won an Olympic medal, she too is not being sent. What is so special about Vinesh that she is being sent? Just organise trials. I am not saying that I am the only one who can beat Vinesh. There are several other girls who can beat her," Panghal said.

"They are also saying that the one who goes for the Asian Games will also go for the World Championships. And the one who wins a medal at the Worlds will go to the Olympics (in Paris). We have also been training hard for years. So, what about us?"

"I request you to support me like you supported Vinesh Phogat, I have practiced for four years, and I just what to know why they are selected….. Should we leave wrestling? Tell us on what basis is she (Vinesh) being sent," Panghal added.

Sources had said that WFI panel had given Bajrang and Vinesh direct entry to participate in the upcoming Asian games, Hangzhou, without appearing in national trials. Olympians Bajrang Punia, Sakshi Malik and Vinesh Phogat along with other wrestlers had been on a protest in the national capital earlier this year to press for the arrest of former WFI chief Brij Bhushan Singh over allegations of sexual harassment.

Delhi Police filed a chargesheet in connection with the FIR against Brij Bhushan on the complaint of protesting wrestlers.