Monday, July 15, 2024

WFI asks SAI to hold fitness tests for Olympics-bound wrestlers

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New Delhi: The Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) has written to the Sports Authority of India (SAI) asking that “medical tests” be done on the six Paris Olympics-bound wrestlers and their fitness assessed. WFI president Sanjay Singh has said the federation “will not be responsible for injuries sustained by any wrestler as no preparatory camp has been sanctioned by SAI.”

Indian wrestler Anshu Malik will compete in the 57kg division at the Paris Olympics. (Vipin Kumar/HT PHOTO)

“There was no camp for wrestlers for Olympic preparation and some wrestlers are training in India at their respective training centres, while others are training abroad under the Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS),” Singh wrote in his letter to the TOPS division of SAI on Tuesday.

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“In light of the upcoming 2024 Paris Olympics, it is crucial that all participating wrestlers undergo thorough medical testing before departing for the Games. This precaution is necessary to ensure that each athlete is in optimal health and fitness to compete at their best,” he said in the letter, a copy of which is with HT.

“Furthermore, I kindly request the TOPS division to coordinate and facilitate medical tests of the Olympic athletes at the earliest convenience. It is important to note that any injuries sustained by any wrestler during the Games or before the Games will not hold the federation responsible, as no preparatory camp has been sanctioned by SAI.”

Six wrestlers – Vinesh Phogat, Anshu Malik, Antim Panghal, Reetika Hooda, Nisha Dahiya and Aman Sehrawat – have qualified for the Olympics. All of them are training on their own, either in their respective academies in India or abroad through funding from TOPS.

When WFI announced the team in May, it said the fitness of wrestlers will be monitored in tournaments and the national camp. However, no camp could be organised as wrestlers continued to train with personal coaches and support staff members. Three of the five women wrestlers skipped a multi-nation camp in Hungary, which was part of WFI’s training plan, citing various reasons. Wrestling national coaches have thus informed WFI that they are unable to assess the fitness of a few wrestlers.

The case that prompted WFI to write to TOPS is Anshu Malik reportedly suffering a shoulder strain during training. She was even admitted in a hospital here but WFI was not kept in the loop.

“WFI enquired from the wrestler and asked her to provide her discharge summary and fitness certificate. The reports were contradictory. In one report she was advised two weeks’ rest from June 28. The federation contacted the hospital and received another report that said she is recovering very fast and can start light training from July 4,” said a person aware of the development.

“She has been cleared for training in Japan by the TOPS division. Her parents are also travelling along,” the person added.

Anshu has been training at her academy in Mirchpur, Hissar since returning from an international ranking series in Hungary where she won a silver medal on June 8. The 2021 former worlds silver medallist had trained at the Nippon Sports Science University in Yokohama, Japan for 26 days in February, cleared by SAI.

Only one physio cleared

It has been learnt that Vinesh Phogat’s personal physio is the only physio for the wrestling squad cleared by the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) so far. Her Hungarian personal coach Woller Akos has also got Games accreditation. An IOA official said the physio is going with the team, so she will have to attend to others too. “IOA physios and masseurs from Games Village can be deployed as well, and then there will be non-accredited support staff members who will be getting daily passes.” There will be three coaches, recommended by WFI, with the team.

WFI said it has forwarded the requests of wrestlers for taking their coaches and support staff for IOA’s consideration.

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