Indian wrestlers, who missed the flight to attend the World Qualifiers, have finally reached Sofia, Bulgaria for the event that starts on May 6. The event is supposed to be the last chance for the Indian grapplers to book berths for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics that begins on July 23, later this year.
A contingent of 10 wrestlers was supposed to take the flight to Sofia, Bulgaria via Amsterdam on Wednesday for the Olympic Qualifiers starting on May 6. But, with the recent surge in the number of Covid-19 cases in India, Dutch Airlines cancelled the connecting flight.
The Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) sprung into action as they arranged for fresh air tickets via Paris. It meant that the Indian grapplers reached Sofia, Bulgaria, just a few days ahead of the event, on Friday, which is their final chance to secure berths for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.
"We had discussions with those countries through our embassies in Netherlands and France and succeeded in getting travel restrictions relaxed. Eventually, we booked tickets via Paris for Thursday night. The wrestlers have already reached there," said Vinod Tomar, Assistant Secretary of WFI.
Six wrestlers - Ravi Dahiya (57kg), Bajrang Punia (65kg), Deepak Punia (86kg) in the men’s freestyle category and three in the women's wrestlers (Vinesh Phogat 53kg, Anshu Malik (57kg) and Sonam Malik (62kg) have already qualified for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.
In the men’s freestyle section - Amit Dhankar (74kg), Satywart Kadiyan (97kg) and Sumit Malik (125kg) will try their luck in Bulgaria, while Seema (50kg), Nisha Dahiya (68kg) and Pooja Sihag (76kg) will feature in the women’s qualifiers.
So far, no Indian men’s wrestler has made a cut in the Greco-Roman category, however, six of them - Sachin Rana (60kg), Aashu (67kg), Gurpreet Singh (77kg), Sunil (87kg), Deepanshu (97kg) and Naveen Kumar (130kg) will aim for the same in Bulgaria.