Wrestler Vinesh Phogat announced on Tuesday that she will miss the upcoming Asian Games after sustaining an injury on her left knee while training that requires surgery.
Phogat is the defending champion in the 53kg category - the the first Indian woman wrestler to win gold at the Asian Games - and had gotten a direct entry for the 2023 edition which had raised controversy after her role in the protests against Wrestling Federation of India.
The surgery also means that she will likely also miss next month's Olympic-qualifying World Championship, the trials for which are scheduled to be held on August 25-26 in Patiala.
Antim Panghal, who won the 53kg trials and was the reserve player, is likely to take her place in India's Asian Games squad. Panghal had filed a petition against the direct entry but that was dismissed by the Delhi High Court last month. Antim had also won silver at the 2023 Asian Championships - an event Vinesh had missed due to the protests against the WFI.
"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 in a tweet.
"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.
- Vinesh Phogat (@Phogat_Vinesh) August 15, 2023
The development means that she will also miss next month's Olympic-qualifying World Championship, the trials for which are scheduled to be held on August 25-26 in Patiala.The wrestler had recently returned to training after an almost three-month long sit in protest against the WFI, whose former chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh was accused of sexual harassment.
Phogat, along with Bajrang Punia, was given direct entries into the Asian Games by the ad-hoc panel running WFI as they are reigning World Championship medallists. This came after their protests had ended with the chargesheet being filed against Singh in June. However, the exemption didn't go down well with other competitors and was challenged in court.