India’s Birmingham Commonwealth Games champion in men’s 86kg freestyle, Deepak Punia, has pulled out of the Belgrade World Wrestling Championships due to an injury, an official of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) told Sportskeeda on Saturday.
After the Commonwealth Games triumph, Deepak and Olympic bronze medalist Bajrang Punia went to the University of Michigan in the USA to prepare for the September 10 -18 World Wrestling Championships in Serbia. Unfortunately, Deepak suffered an elbow injury during his training stint.
“Deepak injured his elbow during a practice session and will not compete in the World Wrestling Championships that commenced Saturday in Serbia,” the WFI official said.
Sanjeet of Services will replace the injured Deepak in the squad for the Belgrade World Championships.
The 23-year-old Deepak was exempt from national selection trials for the World Wrestling Championships. According to the WFI, five wrestlers competed in the 86kg selection trials held on Thursday in Sonepat, Haryana. Sanjeet beat Sandeep Mann of Punjab in the final bout to earn a place in the national team.
While the men’s Greco Roman team left for Serbia on Thursday, the women’s freestyle team boarded a flight early on Saturday for the World Wrestling Championships.
The WFI also conducted a re-trial in the women’s 50kg freestyle event at the Sports Authority of India (SAI) Sports Complex in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, which was won by Neelam.
Sonam Malik on the comeback trail
Olympian Sonam Malik has made a comeback to the senior national team after missing the Birmingham Commonwealth Games due to a niggle. Sonam won silver in the 62kg category at the World Junior Wrestling Championships held last month in Bulgaria.
“We expect Sonam to give her best in Belgrade,” Sonam’s coach Ajmer Singh said. “She is fit and could win medal too.”
Several medal winners of the Commonwealth Games, including Sakshi Malik, skipped the Belgrade World Championships trials. Vinesh Phogat in the 53kg division is the most experienced wrestler in the women’s squad.