Bajrang Punia, Vinesh Phogat find place in latest TOPS Core group-Sports News , Firstpost

Vinesh Phogat (L) and Bajrang Punia (R) have been protesting against WFI chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh accusing him of sexual harassment of female grapplers. PTI

Wrestlers Bajrang Punia and Vinesh Phogat find a place in the updated Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) Core group. Both wrestlers, and more including 2016 Rio Olympics medallist Sakshi Malik, are on a sit-in protest against Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh. The wrestlers have accused BJP MP Brij Bhushan of sexual harassment and intimidation while demanding he be arrested.

As a result of their protest since 23 April, the wrestlers have not been able to actively train with the Asian Games this year and Olympic Games in Paris next year. However, they did hit the mat for the first time in 15 days two days ago.

The duo have not competed in any international tournament since January and have not gone abroad for training even though their training-cum-exposure trips have been cleared by Sports Authority of India.


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After light sessions at Jantar Mantar in the open, they did a U-turn on training and competing in tournaments by taking the mat. The trials for the Asian Games are expected to be held under the watchful eye of an Indian Olympic Association (IOA) appointed ad-hoc panel.

Elsewhere, Olympian and World Championship silver medallist archer Atanu Das has been re-inducted in the scheme following impressive performances domestically and at the Archery World Cup in Antalya this year.

Atanu had scored 673 points to claim the fourth spot in the men’s individual recurve rankings in Turkey. It was his first outdoor competition after nearly one-and-a-half years.

Other big names to be included in TOPS is rifle shooter Mehuli Ghosh, who won the 10m air rifle event at the National Shooting Trials and 15-year-old Tilottama Sen.

Sen had won a bronze medal in 10m air rifle event at the Cairo World Cup this year in what was her debut on the senior circuit. She also has Junior World Championships bronze and team gold under her belt which she won in 2022.

Badminton pairing of Treesa Jolly and Gayatri Gopichand is a glaring omission from the 101-member Core group list. The Indian women’s doubles pairing had reached the semi-finals at the All England Open while also winning all their matches at the Asia Mixed Team Championships this year.

(with inputs from PTI)

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