Pooja Dhanda opts out of Nationals, to focus on trials for Olympics qualifiers

Dhanda is one of the big names, alongside Rio Olympics bronze medallist Sakshi Malik, who is yet to book her berth for the Tokyo Olympics. 

By Samrat Chakraborty ·

Experienced Indian wrestler Pooja Dhanda has set her sight on the trials for the Asian Olympic Qualifiers as she opted out of the senior women's national championship, starting in Agra from Saturday.

The 2018 World Wrestling Championship bronze medallist (57kg category) is focused on making her weight for the trials. The Hisar-born wrestler has opted out of the Nationals as she believes it will drain her stamina and strength ahead of the all-important trials for the Olympic qualifiers.

“I have to lose weight to compete in 57kg. It will lead to loss of stamina and strength. That’s why I have decided to skip the nationals. I will now compete in trials for the qualifiers,” Dhanda told the New Indian Express.

Dhanda is one of the big names, alongside Rio Olympics bronze medallist Sakshi Malik, who is yet to book her berth for the Tokyo Olympics.

Pooja Dhanda (left) won a silver medal at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

The 27-year-old, however, is hoping to make her Olympics debut at Tokyo. Her main rival at the trials (57kg), will be compatriot Anshu Malik, who bagged a silver medal Individual World Cup in Serbia.

Among the Indian female wrestlers, Vinesh Phogat is the only one to book her berth for Tokyo Olympics. However, five weight categories - 50, 57, 62, 68 and 76 - are still up for grabs. Indian wrestlers are looking to do well at Asian and World qualifiers slated to take place in April and May and secure a spot for the Olympics.

Sakshi Malik, meanwhile, will be participating at the senior women’s national championship ahead of the trials.

The marquee national event will see about 240 women participate in the two-day event. On the inaugural day - competitions will be held in the 50kg, 55kg, 57kg, 62kg and 72kg categories while on the concluding day - wrestlers will participate in the 53kg, 59kg, 65kg, 68kg and 76kg categories.

Spectators in limited numbers will be allowed for the competition. The Wrestling Federation of India, however, has advised the Uttar Pradesh Wrestling Association to ensure Covid-19 protocols are followed.