Wrestlers Deepak Punia, Sujeet Kalakal to miss Asian qualifiers after arriving late in Bishkek


PTI, Apr 19, 2024, 11:00 AM IST

Representative Image (source: iStock)

New Delhi: In a huge setback for the Indian wrestling contingent at the Asia Olympic Qualifiers in Bishkek, two of the country’s best wrestlers, Deepak Punia and Sujeet Kalakal, will miss the continental event as they could not report for the weigh-in on time as their flight arrived late in the Kyrgyzstan capital owing to bad weather in Dubai.

While both Punia and Sujeet eventually managed to reach Bishkek after being stranded at the Dubai international airport due to incessant rain and flooding, they could not report for the mandatory weigh-in on time, according to sources.

The sources added that the organisers did not allow late weigh-in despite request from the Indian coaches.

Punia (86kg), who had come close to winning a medal at the Tokyo Games, and Sujeet (65kg), were on their way to Bishkek to participate in the Asia Olympic qualifiers — the second-last qualifying event for Paris Olympics — when a majority of the flights leaving Dubai got cancelled or delayed because of the flooding of the airport.

The duo, accompanied by Russian coach Kamal Malikov and physio Shubham Gupta, were forced to sleep on the floor and had no access to proper food due to the rain-induced crisis in Dubai.

“They were stuck at the Dubai airport since April 16 and it seems the chance of qualifying for Paris Olympics is slipping out of their hands as they are scheduled to compete tomorrow. They are not getting any flights to Bishkek. I am worried about them,” Dayanand Kalakal, Sujeet’s father, had told PTI on Thursday.

Punia and Sujeet were training in Dagestan, Russia from April 2 to 15 and decided to fly from Makachkala to Bishkek via Dubai.

The last chance to qualify for Paris will be World Qualifiers in Turkey in May.

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