India’s freestyle wrestlers and Olympic medallists Ravi Dahiya and Bajrang Punia won their respective final bouts to earn a place in the national squad for the Birmingham Commonwealth Games. The national selection trials were at the Indira Gandhi Indoor Sports Complex on Tuesday.
Dahiya, the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games silver medalist dominated in the 57 kg category. After defeating Aman in the finals of the 57 kg event, Dahiya said:
“I hope to win gold at the Commonwealth Games.”
Regarding his preparations for the Commonwealth Games, Dahiya added:
“As of now, my plan is to train on the home soil.”
As expected, Punia also won his 65 kg final bout against Vishal. The narrow 2-1 win hinted that Punia has a lot to work on to regain his lost fitness. Punia said after sealing a berth for the Birmingham Commonwealth Games:
“It will take more time for me to regain my lost fitness as I’ve missed several vital training sessions due to injuries.”
However, the field was wide open in the 74 kg category. As seasoned wrestlers like Narsingh Yadav and Jitender failed to enter the final round, it was Naveen’s turn to stamp his authority in the group. Naveen defeated Gaurav Baliyan 10-0 in the final to cement his place in the national team for the Commonwealth Games.
While Tokyo Olympian Deepak Punia emerged as the winner in the 86 kg event, Asian championship medalist Satyawart Kadian failed to move to the finals of the 97 kg event.
Both Kadian and Mousam Khatri lost their semi-final bouts. World Junior bronze medallist Deepak, who beat Sahil Sehrawat 10-0, will represent India at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games starting July 28.
Meanwhile, the women’s freestyle trials were held on Monday in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh.
Indian men’s freestyle team for the Commonwealth Games:
57 kg: Ravi Dahiya
65 kg: Bajrang Punia
74 kg: Naveen
86 kg: Deepak Punia
97 kg: Deepak