India name five-member squad for Budapest judo Grand Slam

Part of the World Judo Tour, ranking points will be on offer at the event which can help participants qualify for the Tokyo Olympics next year.

By Utathya Nag ·

Five judokas, including former Olympian Avtar Singh and the highly-rated Jasleen Singh Saini, will represent India at the Budapest Grand Slam in Hungary.

The eagerly awaited IJF competition - the first to be held since the pandemic - is scheduled from October 23 to 26.

The Indian team consists of three male and two female judokas. Avtar Singh (100kg), who participated in the Rio 2016 Olympics, will be joined by Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) developmental group athlete Jasleen Singh Saini and 24-year-old Vijay Yadav (60kg) in the men’s group.

Manipur’s Sushila Devi and Delhi’s Tulika Mann (78kg) will be the other women’s representatives. The five will be joined by coach Jiwan Sharma for their travel to Hungary and the entire expenses of the six-member contingent will be borne by the Government of India.

Avtar Singh, who represented India in Judo at the 2016 Rio Olympics, will be travelling to Budapest.

Part of the World Judo Tour, ranking points will be on offer at the event which, in turn, can help participants to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics next year.

The five participants were selected on the basis of the world rankings, since they have high chances of qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics. They are also considered to be the best competitors in the senior national ranking championships.

Sushila Devi, world No. 41 in her 48kg weight category, is the highest-ranked Indian woman with 833 Olympic qualification points to her name, while Jasleen Singh Saini, ranked 56th in the 66kg bracket with 854 Olympic qualification points, is the top draw amongst the men.

“My aim is to get a medal for India in the Olympics and I’m very confident to get this done because I have done a lot of hard work for this. I am also very thankful to the government for their support,” the 22-year-old Jasleen said.

The Indian contingent will leave for Hungary on October 19 but will need to produce two COVID negative tests – one five days prior and another 48 hours before boarding their flight. They will be retested in Hungary.

With 645 competitors from 81 countries slated to participate in the IJF event, everyone will be staying inside a bio-bubble during the course of the competition.