Indian wrestler Sujeet Kalkal has made his discontent known over the direct entry granted to Bajrang Punia for the upcoming Asian Games. Kalkal, the reigning U20 world championship bronze medallist, expressed that such privileges for established wrestlers like Bajrang hinder the aspirations of the next generation of wrestlers aiming to become Olympic champions. The decision by the Indian Olympic Association’s (IOA) ad-hoc panel to exempt Bajrang Punia (65kg freestyle) and Vinesh Phogat (53kg) from the Asian Games trials on July 22-23 has sparked controversy and raised concerns about fair selection processes.
According to Kalkal, there are numerous talented wrestlers in the 65kg freestyle category who have the potential to defeat Bajrang. He recalled a close encounter with Bajrang during the Commonwealth Games trials. Where Bajrang received a direct semifinals entry while others had to fight through all the bouts.
Supporting his argument further, Kalkal pointed out that he recently achieved an impressive victory over American wrestler John Michael Diakomihalis with an 8-2 margin. Whereas, Bajrang had previously lost to the same opponent by technical superiority in the World Championships.
Kalkal highlighted the importance of equal opportunities. He stressed that everyone should be given fair trials to showcase their abilities and compete on a level playing field. He expressed his dream of becoming an Olympic champion. But He believes that direct entries for established wrestlers diminish the chances for emerging talents to achieve their dreams.
Sujeet Kalkal ‘s perspective sheds light on the need for a transparent and merit-based selection process for Asian Games. Ensuring that deserving athletes, regardless of their stature, are given equal opportunities. Such practices are crucial for nurturing and supporting the next generation of athletes and promoting healthy competition in sports.
The upcoming Asian Games in Hangzhou, China, will undoubtedly be closely watched. Kalkal’s criticism highlights the importance of continuous improvements in the selection process to foster a competitive and vibrant sports culture in India. Aspiring athletes should have the assurance that their hard work and talent will be recognized. They should be provided with a fair chance to prove themselves on the international stage.