NEW DELHI: Reigning champion Vinesh Phogat will miss the Hangzhou Asian Games after sustaining an injury on her left knee during training on August 13 that will require surgery, she announced on Tuesday. Vinesh is the defending champion in the women’s 53kg category.

She had received a direct entry for the Games by the Indian Olympic Association (IOA)-appointed ad-hoc committee along with Bajrang Punia (men’s freestyle 65kg) – a decision which hadn’t gone down well with fellow wrestlers who were forced to approach the courts challenging exemptions offered to them.
The development also meant that Rio and Tokyo Olympian Vinesh will also miss the all-important World wrestling championships in Serbia’s Belgrade next month, which will act as a qualifying event for the Paris Olympics 2024.

The trials for the Worlds are scheduled to be held on August 25-26 in NIS Patiala. No exemptions have been offered by the ad-hoc committee in any of the 10 weight categories in men’s and women’s freestyle and Greco-roman for the Worlds.
Antim Panghal, who topped the Asiad trials in Vinesh’s weight category and was the reserve player, will take her place in India’s wrestling squad for the multisport event, scheduled from September 23 to October 8 in Hangzhou.
Panghal had filed a petition against the exemption offered to Vinesh but her plea was rejected by the Delhi high court last month.
Announcing her decision, Vinesh wrote on social media platform X: “A couple of days ago on 13th August 2023, I injured my left knee in training. After doing the scans and examinations, the doctor has said that unfortunately, surgery is the only option for me to recover. I will be undergoing surgery on 17th August in Mumbai,” Phogat said.

“It was my dream to retain my Asian Games gold medal for India which I won in 2018 at Jakarta. But unfortunately, this injury has ruled out my participation now. I have informed all concerned authorities immediately so that the reserve player can be sent to the Asian Games,” she added.

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