By Navneet Singh
New Delhi, April 7 (IANS) With flights to Almaty cancelled for the past two days due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the national wrestling team will have to take connecting flights and travel for at least 24 hours to reach the venue for the Asian Wrestling Championships.
The Asian Championships, to be held in the Kazakhstan capital from April 9 to 18, is the first Olympic qualification tournament this season.
The first batch of six Greco-Roman wrestlers left on Wednesday morning for Almaty via Maldives, confirmed an official of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI).
“It will be a long journey but there was no other alternative as there are no direct flights available,” the WFI official told IANS.
It will be more challenging for the women’s freestyle squad aiming to earn an Olympic quota place.
“The team will leave on Friday and will reach only a few hours before the official weighing-in on April 10,” said the WFI official.
In the Asian tournament, the WFI will field teams in non-Olympic and Olympic weight categories.
In the 2019 Olympic qualifying cycle, four wrestlers including World Championships bronze-medallist Bajrang Punia (men’s 65kg) got the berth for Tokyo Olympic Games starting July 23.
Ravi Dahiya (men’s 57 kg), Deepak Punia (men’s 86 kg) and Vinesh Phogat (women’s 53 kg) are the others to qualify for Olympics.
“We are hopeful of getting more quota places in Almaty,” added a WFI official.
Seema (50kg), Anshu Malik (57kg), Sonam Malik (62kg), Nisha (68kg) and Pooja (76kg) are five top women wrestlers who will compete in Olympic weight categories.
Sandeep Singh (74kg), Satyawart Kadian (97kg) and Sumit Malik (125kg) are the three male freestyle wrestlers in the Asian Olympic qualification tournament.
Gyanender (60kg), Ashu (67kg), Gurpreet Singh (87kg), Sunil Kumar (87kg), Ravi (97kg) and Naveen (130kg) are the main wrestlers in the Greco Roman category.