Rahul Aware, who won the 57kg freestyle gold at the Commonwealth Games 2018, didn’t show up at the event held in Sonepat on Saturday thereby furthering the controversy clouding the WFI selection process.
Protesting the Wrestling Federation of India’s decision not to exempt him from the selection trials for the upcoming Asian Games, Rahul Aware, who won the 57kg freestyle gold at the Commonwealth Games 2018, didn’t show up at the event held in Sonepat on Saturday. The WFI has given four wrestlers, Sushil Kumar, Sakshi Malik, Bajrang Punia and Vinesh Phogat, a direct entry into the Asian Games team citing their international record, but curiously didn’t afford Maharashtra’s Aware the same luxury.
Sumit, who won gold medal in men’s 125kg in Gold Coast, was also asked to give the trials. Sumit showed up and destroyed the competition to make the squad. In Aware’s absence, his statemate Utkarsh Kale came close to sealing the 57kg freestyle spot, but sensationally squandered a five point lead in the last minute to go down to Sandip Tomar. The result left three wrestlers, Kale, Tomar and Ravi, with same number of classification points (14) in the round-robin system.
It led to a great deal of confusion and the WFI decided to conduct a re-trial on June 13 to settle the issue. It was heartbreak for Kale as he led Tomar 8-5 with 20 seconds remaining in their bout when the latter got a controversial four-point throw. Kale challenged but the decision was upheld and a point was awarded to Tomar for the failed challenge. A buoyant Tomar then got two more points in a scrap to match Kale for classification points.
Elsewhere, Pawan Kumar, Mausam Khatri and Sumit Malik were selected to represent India at the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta in men’s 86kg, 97kg and 125kg respectively.