Ulaanbaatar (Mongolia): In an embarrassment for India, ace female wrestler Vinesh Phogat was on Friday disqualified from the 1st World Olympic Qualifying event for being overweight on a day when other women grapplers also failed to book Rio Games berth.
Vinesh weighed 400gm more than what was stipulated to be eligible for the 48kg category competition.
"Vinesh was overweight by 400 gms, so she was disqualified from the competition," a top official in the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) told PTI.
India lost out on a chance to ensure an Olympic berth in 48kg and are now left with just one more opportunity to book a ticket to the Rio Games at the last Olympic qualifier -- 2nd World Qualification tournament -- scheduled to be held at Istanbul, Turkey from May 6-8.
The official said a stern warning has been issued to the 21-year-old wrestler and her coaches.
"Vinesh and the coaches have been hauled up for costing India a chance to qualify for the Rio Games. Since she is a first time offender, she has been given a warning," he said.
According to the official, Vinesh has pleaded with the WFI for another chance and she would leave no stone unturned to ensure a place in the Olympics in her weight division at the next event in Istanbul.
"Vinesh has assured us that she would give her 200 per cent in Istanbul and make sure that she qualifies for the Olympics. But if she fails there as well, she would be issued a show-cause notice after her return to India," said the official.
Asked why WFI is not considering sending someone else for next month's competition in Istanbul, he explained: "Firstly, the difference between Vinesh and the next girl in line in 48kg category is huge. In fact, getting someone else's visa done at the last moment is also not feasible. Secondly, Vinesh is already in the core group of players for the Olympics and has been training in Sofia for a long time now. She is our best bet to qualify for Rio."
The Indian female wrestling team, which includes three Phogat sisters -- Vinesh, Babita and Geeta -- have been training in Sofia, Bulgaria since the first week of April.
Meanwhile, other women grapplers in fray -- Babita (53kg), Geeta (58kg), Anita (63kg) and Navjot Kaur (69kg) and Jyoti (75kg) -- could not make it to the medal round, hence losing out on a chance to book Olympic berths.
While Babita, veteran Geeta and Jyoti went down in the repechage rounds of their respective weight categories, Anita and Navjot crashed out in the early stages of the competition.
Babita defeated Shinhye Lee of Korea 5-0 before losing to USA's Helen Louise Maroulis 0-10 in her quarterfinal bout.
But since the girl from USA reached the final, Babita got an opportunity to fight in repechage round but the Indian forfeited the bout against Alma Jane Valencia Escoto of Mexico.
The eldest of the Phogat sisters, Geeta also suffered the same fate. After a good start against Peru's Yanet Ursula Sovero Nino, winning 8-4, she was thrashed by Lissette Alexandra Antes Castillo of Ecuador 0-6.
However, Geeta missed out on a golden opportunity to make it to the bronze-medal play-off as she suffered an injury and failed to fight in the repechage round.
Jyoti got the better of Sweden's Fanny Helene Gradin 10-6 but could not overcome the challenge from Cynthia Vanessa Vescan of France, going down 0-11.
In the repechage round also, she lost by similar margin to Svetlana Saenko of Moldova.
Anita fell in her quarterfinal bout after a fine victory in the qualification round, while Navjot faltered in her qualification bout itself.
Published Date: Apr 24, 2016 09:25 AM | Updated Date: Apr 24, 2016 09:25 AM