The Asian Games postponement has come as a huge disappointment for a few athletes but it has also taken away the dilemma of National Sports Federations (NSFs), which were forced to field separate teams for Asiad, Birmingham Commonwealth Games and their respective world events.
The continental multi-sport showpiece, scheduled in Hangzhou for September 10-25, was on Friday postponed due to a worsening pandemic situation in China. However, now that one big event is off the calendar, NSFs have devised new plans.
The Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) was to send its second-best wrestlers to the World Championships in Serbia (September 10-18) and its top grapplers to the CWG and Asian Games since the Worlds were not an Olympic qualifying event this year.
However, the WFI has now decided to send its best wrestlers to all three big events and will pick the teams through trials.
“We will hold fresh trials for the Asiad in six Olympic categories. Once we know the dates, we will decide accordingly. Earlier, we had decided that we will send wrestlers who had finished second in recent trials (for CWG and Asiad) to the Worlds but now we will pick the Indian team in all 10 categories, based on fresh trials, “WFI Assistant Secretary Vinod Tomar told PTI.
“Also, for the upcoming UWW Ranking series events, we will allow the medal winners at the Asian Championships in Mongolia to compete. For the categories in which we did not win medals, the WFI will decide which wrestler will compete since trials will not be held for UWW events, “he added.
As per the UWW calendar, three ranking series events are lined up in Kazakhstan (June 2-5), Rome (June 22-25), Tunisia (July 14-17) before the World Championship.
Hockey India had decided to field a reserve team at the CWG and its best players at the Hangzhou Asian Games since Olympic berths were at stake in both men’s and women’s events at the Asiad. The winners earn the right to compete at 2024 Paris Olympics.
The federation is apparently deciding if it can field a mix of youth and experience at the Birmingham CWG.
“Now that the Asian Games are postponed, the main team players can be considered for CWG but that depends upon deliberation with coaching staff, which will take place soon,” said a top HI official, who did not wish to be named.
“It might be the case that there can be a mix of youth and experienced players in CWG squads.”
India’s top archers, including Atanu Das, Deepika Kumari and Jyothi Surekha, had failed to make the Indian team for Asian Games, losing out in selection trials earlier this year.
The top-four archers from the trials in Sonepat were selected to compete at the Asian Games and also the first three phases of World Cups in Antalya (April 17-24), Gwangju (May 16-22) and Paris (June 21-26). ). The next best (5th-8th position) were selected to participate in the fourth phase of the World Cup in Medellin (July 18-24).
However, the Archery Association may now change its plans.
“This is good news for us, it gives us more time to prepare. Some of our top archers missed the cut, so they will get another opportunity. Now we can alter the original plan and give chances to upcoming youngsters in the coming World Cups. A decision on this will be taken in our core committee meeting in a couple of days, “said AAI secretary general Pramod Chandurkar.
Indian athletics chief coach Radhakrishnan Nair said they have bigger goals in mind and are focused on preparing athletes for the 2024 Paris Games.
He hinted that there will be changes in training plans.
“We always have long term training plans. We even started the training plan for 2024 Paris Olympics from mid-October last year. These Asian Games and CWG are building blocks (for Olympics). But some changes will be there as the Asian Games is postponed, “Nair told PTI.
The postponement ought to be a relief for track and field athletes since they can breathe easy with one less event in busy calendar. Now they can focus only on the World Championships (July 15-24) in Eugene, USA and the Birmingham CWG.