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Published 15:58 IST, May 8th 2024

High hopes from Aman Sehrawat at last Olympic Qualifying event in Istanbul

The immensely-talented Aman Sehrawat and the experienced Deepak Punia will be followed keenly when they take to the mat to lock the men's freestyle quotas for Paris Olympics at the World Qualifiers beginning here on Thursday. It is the last event to secure spot for the Paris Games.

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Aman Sehrawat poses with a medal | Image: Instagram/@amansehrawat057
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The immensely-talented Aman Sehrawat and the experienced Deepak Punia will be followed keenly when they take to the mat to lock the men's freestyle quotas for Paris Olympics at the World Qualifiers beginning here on Thursday.

It is the last event to secure spot for the Paris Games.

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There were high hopes that U23 world champion Aman would qualify for the Games either at the World Championships or the Asian Qualifiers in Bishkek but both the chances were lost.

While Aman (57kg) bumped into a strong opponent in Gulomjon Abdullaev in the quota-deciding bout in Bishkek, both World Championships silver medallist Deepak (86kg) and Sujeet Kalkal (65kg) could not reach Bishkek on time after being stuck in Dubai due to storm.

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Now it's a do-or-die situation for all Indian wrestlers at Istanbul where the two finalists in each category will be awarded the quotas. A third quota will be given to the wresters who emerges winner in the bout between the two bronze medallists.

The tournament will begin with Greco Roman style and followed by women's and freestyle on the last two days of the four-day qualifying competition.

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None of the Indian men's wrestlers has so far got a quota and drawing a blank will be a huge embarrassment for the country that took some major strides in international wrestling before the protest against former WFI chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh halted the progress.

Endurance has always been the strong point of Indian wrestlers but their preparations have suffered in the absence of national camps and competitions due to protest.

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Usually, the Indian wrestlers tire their opponents out but for that to happen, it is important to stretch the bout to full six minutes. It's a strategy that Bajrang Punia and Ravi Dahiya have employed although the latter has always been aggressive and finishes the bout in a jiffy.

"If the bouts lasts full distance, Aman can beat any wrestler, so managing the first three minutes are crucial. He was obviously very disappointed for what happened in Bishkek," said coach Praveen Dahiya who trained him for four years before being shifted out of Chattrasal Stadium.

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"There is no national camp for some time and because of that the sport has suffered. It has impacted the preparations adversely, then change in coaching staff also affects. The wrestler has a certain comfort and tuning with coaches they train and when they get changed, that also affects them I feel," he added.

If Aman fails to lock a quota, it would also mean that Tokyo Games silver medallist Ravi Dahiya would also lose a chance to compete in Paris.

He would bounce back in contention if Aman gets the 57kg quota and the national federation decides to have one final trial to decide who represents the country in the Summer Games, starting July 26.

Jaidep (74kg) Deepak (97kg) and Sumit Malik (125kg) also have one last chance to make the cut in men's free style.

So far, India have got four quotas -- all through women wrestlers and Mansi Ahlawat (62kg) and Nisha Dahiya (68kg) are expected to give their all.

It will be a bonus if the Greco Roman wresters also manage quotas, considering the high level of competition that awaits the Indian wrestlers. PTI AT AT AH AH

15:58 IST, May 8th 2024