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Top judoka to miss Olympics qualifier due to federation infighting

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By Navneet Singh

New Delhi, March 31 (IANS) Vijay Yadav, India’s No.1 judoka in men’s 60kg and Asian medallist, seems to have lost a good opportunity to improve his global ranking and a chance to qualify for the upcoming Tokyo Olympic Games due to internal politics of the Judo Federation of India (JFI).

Yadav, 24, will miss the Asian Oceania Olympic qualifier tournament starting on April 6 in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, where a good performance would have brightened his chances of qualifying for the July-August Olympics.

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Yadav had even decided to fund his own trip. But JFI president Pratap Singh Bajwa allegedly did not approve his name despite general secretary Manmohan Jaiswal recommending him for the tournament.

Bajwa and Jaiswal are at loggerheads, and this battle seems to have affected Yadav’s participation in Bishkek.

The continental competition offers valuable points to improve the world rankings in order to qualify for the Olympic Games starting July 23.

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Considering Yadav’s recent past performance, Jaiswal said he supported Yadav. “He was world No.22 in 2018. I believe he deserves a place in the team. I recommended his name but it wasn’t accepted by the president,” Jaiswal told IANS.

Bajwa didn’t respond to calls and text messages from IANS.

According to Jaiswal, there is a provision to field two extra players in addition to a seven-member team in the men’s group.

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Despite finishing second in 73kg in the selection trials held in the second week of February at the Indira Gandhi Indoor Sports Complex in New Delhi, Yadav got the federation’s nod for Bishkek.

The JFI has selected a 17-member team, including eight in the women’s group, for the Asian Oceania qualifiers.

Yadav had finished third during the trials in his weight. The judoka is funded by the sports ministry’s Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) and trains at Bhopal’s Sports Authority of India (SAI) National Centre of Excellence.

According to Yadav’s coach Yashpal Solanki, since he is considered to have potential to win an Olympic berth, the government is supporting him.

“In the 2019 national circuit, Yadav was ranked No.1. Since October 2020, he has been consistent in his performance at the international level. On the basis of his recent past performance he should have got one chance to earn points to stay in the race to win a ticket to the Olympics,” said Solanki.

“Punjab’s Jasleen Singh Saini (66kg) is also in the race to earn an Olympic qualification quota. Despite finishing second in the national selection trials in February, his name is included in the squad for the Olympic qualifier,” said Jaiswal.

–IANS

nns/qma

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