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2024 Paris Olympics: 6 Indian Wrestlers Earn Quotas – Who They Are

2024 Paris Olympics: India's wrestling contingent will be six-strong.

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Wrestling
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Six Indian wrestlers have earned quotas for the 2024 Paris Olympics

In isolation, the statement might not inspire optimism, for, in the last two editions of sport’s pinnacle competition, India’s wrestling contingent was seven-strong. But after a year of turmoil, where the sport's future in India seemed to be in jeopardy, the scenario is far from bleak.

Let us have a look at the grapplers who earned quotas, and how they achieved that:

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Vinesh Phogat – Women's 50kg

2024 Paris Olympics: India's wrestling contingent will be six-strong.

(Photo: UWW)

A sporting contingent at an Olympics event does not share any uncanny resemblance with a concert. Accordingly, no such contingent has a ‘headliner’. 

Yet, for reasons aplenty, Vinesh Phogat is one.

The two-time World Championships bronze medallist spent the lion’s share of 2023 on the road, and not on the mat. She emerged as a beacon of justice, as wrestlers protested against the former WFI president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh.

When the time arrived to return to the mat, Vinesh first had to miss an event in Hungary owing to fever and food poisoning, and then the Asian Games, owing to a knee injury.

With Antim Panghal having already secured a quota in her preferred weight category – 53kg – the division in which she won both of her World Championships medals, Vinesh had to compete in the 50kg division. Winning the national trials in March, she qualified for the Asian Olympic Qualifiers, where the three-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist won all of her three bouts in a flawless fashion to secure the quota.

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Antim Panghal – Women's 53kg

2024 Paris Olympics: India's wrestling contingent will be six-strong.

(Image: X/Media_SAI)

Should Antim Panghal consider herself unfortunate, there cannot be many contrarian arguments. Amid the uproar which engulfed the wrestling fraternity in India, a teenager winning the bronze medal at the World Championships was promulgated only as a postscript.

Antim announced her arrival in the international arena with consecutive World Junior Championships gold medals in 2022 and 2023. She also won a bronze medal at the Asian Games and a silver medal at the Asian Championships.

But the Paris Olympics quota was secured at the World Championships in Belgrade, where she won the bronze medal in the 53kg category. Besides her achievement in isolation, the list of opponents she trumped also caught attention – Dominique Parrish, a World Championships gold medallist; Roksana Zasina, a five-time European Championships medallist; Natalia Malysheva, another European Championships medallist; and Jonna Malmgreen, who has won the European Championships gold twice.

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Anshu Malik – Women's 57kg

2024 Paris Olympics: India's wrestling contingent will be six-strong.

At the tender age of 19, Anshu Malik soared to greatness with a silver medal at the World Championships, foreshadowing a future without limits. Her 21st birthday brought not just the usual celebration but also a Commonwealth Games silver medal, and it seemed that there was no ceiling to her plausible achievements.

Unfortunately, an injury halted her progress, but she has since made a stunning recovery. After winning the Senior National Championships, Anshu, still only 22, secured a Paris Olympics quota at the Asian Qualifiers, where she defeated Kyrgyzstan’s Kalmira Bilimbek Kyzy and Uzbekistan’s Laylokhon Sobirova.

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Nisha Dahiya – Women's 68kg

2024 Paris Olympics: India's wrestling contingent will be six-strong.

Three years ago, Nisha Dahiya found herself at the centre of an unexpected storm when her phone buzzed incessantly with calls and messages from well-wishers, enquiring about her well-being. Incidentally, a namesake was shot in Sonepat, sparking confusion and worry among her friends and supporters, who mistook the victim for the wrestler.

But a few days ago, when the well-wishers inundated her phone with calls and messages again, it was to congratulate her on securing a Paris Olympics quota. That, she belongs to the biggest of stages, was announced when Nisha defeated a three-time Asian Games gold medallist in China's Zhou Feng to win the Asian Championships silver medal.

At the World Olympic Qualifiers, Nisha defeated European Championships medallist Adela Hanzlickova and World Championships medallist Alexandra Anghel to become the fifth Indian wrestler to secure a quota.

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Reetika Hooda – Women's 76kg

2024 Paris Olympics: India's wrestling contingent will be six-strong.

Young Reetika Hooda has won all of her eight bouts in the 2024 season, on the back of a bronze medal triumph at the Asian Championships. Albeit, neither of those achievements might have garnered her the deserved recognition, and she would have been lingering in the shadows, had it not been for her performance at the Asian Olympic Qualifiers.

The group that she was placed in at the tournament in Bishkek seemed daunting. She had to compete against two Asian Games medallists – Wang Juan and Hwang Eun-ju, and a World Championships medallist – Enkh-Amaryn Davaanasan.

Yet, Reetika defeated all three of them, and then Chinese Taipei’s Chang Hui-tsz in the knockout to earn an Olympics quota. 

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Aman Sehrawat – Men's 57kg

2024 Paris Olympics: India's wrestling contingent will be six-strong.

(Image: X/Media_SAI)

Aman Sehrawat – the solitary Indian male wrestler with a Paris Olympics quota – made a stunning comeback in a short span. Though he was touted as a prime contender for a quota after winning a gold medal at the Asian Championships and a bronze medal at the Asian Games, Aman faced a setback at the Asian Qualifiers. After two consecutive victories, he could barely stand his ground against Uzbekistan’s Gulomjon Abdullaev.

But another opportunity arrived in the form of the World Qualifiers, and on this occasion, the 20-year-old did not commit any errors. He defeated Bulgaria’s Georgi Vangelov, Ukraine’s Andriy Yatsenko and North Korea’s Han Chong-song to earn his quota.

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A Quota Does Not Mean Individual Qualification

Will all the six aforementioned wrestlers feature in Paris?

While the six wrestlers mentioned have secured quotas for India, their participation in the Paris Olympics is not guaranteed. Quotas ensure that a country has the opportunity to send athletes to compete in specific weight categories, but final selection rests with the National Olympic Committee (NOC) of each country.

Recently, the newly-elected WFI president Sanjay Singh confirmed that they will conduct trials to select the Olympics contingent.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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Topics:  Olympics   Wrestling   Vinesh Phogat 

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