Ace Indian wrestler Sakshi Malik on Thursday criticised the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) ad-hoc committee's decision to exempt Vinesh Phogat and Bajrang Punia from trials for the upcoming Asian Games 2023 and revealed that she had also got the proposal but rejected it and wants a fair selection process.
On Tuesday, the WFI ad-hoc panel granted Tokyo Olympics bronze medallist Punia (65kg) and two-time world championships medallist Vinesh (53kg) exemption from appearing in the selection trials for the Asian Games.
The other wrestlers are set to compete in selection trials on July 22 and 23 to secure their spots in the Indian squad and it has angered the rest of the wrestling community, including Sakshi.
The 30-year-old Sakshi, who was a prominent figure along with Vinesh and Bajrang during the wrestlers' protest against the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, revealed that she along with others demanded an extension in the trial date so that they can train.
"We had demanded time from the Ad Hoc committee as we were unable to train. Accordingly, they sent a letter giving us time and said that the trials will be conducted around August 10.
Later, I got a call from the committee saying that they are forwarding the name of both of them (Bajrang Punia and Vinesh Phogat) directly for the Asian Games and asked me to send a mail so that my name could also be forwarded. However, I refused as I did not want a direct entry. I don't want to take away the rights of any junior wrestler," Sakshi told IANS.
"I haven't been to any tournament without the trials; neither will I ever do so in future. So, I am against the decision of giving exemptions to certain names. We were given an assurance that's why we came to foreign land for training. We are facing injustice and should also get equal opportunity to compete in the Asian Games," she added.
Notably, a number of junior wrestlers, including the current U20 World Champion Antim Panghal, have raised concerns about the perceived "unfair" exemption of Vinesh and Bajrang from the selection trials.
Antim and Under-23 Asian Champion Sujeet Kalkal on Wednesday challenged the direct entry given to the two wrestlers in the court.
The Delhi High Court on Thursday asked the ad-hoc panel, responsible to run WFI's day-to-today affairs to clarify the reasons behind exempting wrestlers Vinesh and Bajrang from the Asian Games trials.