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Spotlight on Shushila as Indian judokas eye lone Olympic berth

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By Navneet Singh

New Delhi, April 1 (IANS) When an Indian judo team competes in the Asia Oceania Judo Championships, an Olympic qualifier event starting on April 6 in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, the spotlight will be on Manipur’s Shushila Devi in the women’s 48kg event.

According to judo coach Jiwan Sharma, 26-year-old Shushila has the maximum points in her kitty, as of now, something that gives her an edge for Olympic qualification.

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“She has an advantage over the other Indian players because of better global ranking. If she is able to enter the medal round, it will further brighten her chances of winning continental Olympic Games berth,” Sharma told IANS.

The Bishkek competition offers valuable points to qualify for the Tokyo Olympic Games starting on July 23. The 22-member team, including four officials, will leave for Bishkek on Friday morning.

“There are four Indian judokas in the race for one continental quota that will be announced on June 30. The player with the maximum points will get a ticket to the Olympics. But Shushila is considered a front runner,” said the national coach.

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Jasleen Singh Saini (66kg), Tulika Mann (plus 78kg), and Avtar Singh (plus 100kg) are the other three players in the race for the continental quota place, but they have less number of points than Shushila, points out Sharma.

Keeping in mind the health of the players, they have been advised to follow individual training sessions, says the coach.

“Due to the spike in Covid-19, we didn’t organise a coaching camp but have asked the players to train on their own as they are coming from different parts of the country. Six judokas from Karnataka have reached Delhi while those from Punjab or Haryana would assemble directly at the airport on Friday,” said Sharma.

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Before boarding the flight, members of the Indian team will have to furnish their RT-PCR Covid-19 negative reports. “The players will be tested again at the venue before weighing in,” said the coach.

Team:

Women: Shushila Devi (48kg), Ritu (52kg), Yamini Mourya (57kg), Unnati Sharma (63kg), Inunganbi Takhellambam (63kg), Garima Choudhary (70kg), Indubala Devi (78kg), and Tulika Mann (plus-78kg)

Men: Gulab Ali Mohsin (60kg), Nitin Chauhan (66kg), Jasleen Singh Saini (66kg), Pawan Kumar (73kg), Ajay Yadav (73kg), Divanshu (81kg), Karanjit Singh Mann (90kg), Avtar Singh (plus 100kg)

Coaches: Jiwan Sharma, Akram Shah, Tombi Devi Khunujam, and Navjot Chana

—IANS

nns/qma

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