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Wrestlers Deepak Punia, Sujeet Kalkal miss Olympic qualifiers after flight delay causes them to reach late

Wrestlers Deepak Punia, Sujeet Kalkal miss Olympic qualifiers after flight delay causes them to reach late

The duo were in Dagestan, Russia, for training from April 2 to April 15. The WFI arranged for them to take a flight on April 16 from Makachkala via Dubai to Bishkek.

The aspirations of wrestlers Deepak Punia and Sujeet Kalkal to compete in the Paris Olympics were severely damaged when they were denied entry into the Asian Olympic Qualifiers on Friday. After being stranded at the airport in Dubai since Tuesday, the two are reported to have arrived in the host city of Bishkek just after 8 am on Friday. The weigh-in had already started by that point, and the organizers had refused to let them in because the wrestlers needed to record their body weights and demonstrate that they met the requirements.

Despite their persuasive arguments, the organizers did not grant any exceptions. Now, Punia and Kalkal have just one more opportunity to earn a spot in the Paris Olympics, which is at the World Qualifiers in May.

Men’s freestyle bouts are scheduled for later in the day on Friday, marking the start of India’s qualification campaign. Aman Sehrawat, a young talent in the 57kg category, will lead the team in Punia’s absence.

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Punia and Kalkal were traveling alone, while the other Indian wrestlers—including Vinesh Phogat, who is scheduled to compete on Saturday—left Delhi straight for Bishkek. The two were in Dagestan, Russia, for training from April 2 to April 15. The WFI arranged for them to take a flight on April 16 from Makachkala via Dubai to Bishkek.

Punia is one of India’s top medal contenders for the Olympics in Paris. He just missed out on a bronze medal at the Tokyo Games. For Kalkal, who qualified in a weight class where Bajrang Punia won bronze at the Tokyo Olympics, this was his first major competition.

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