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Indian Wrestlers Deepak Punia and Sujeet Kalakal Miss Asia Olympic Qualifiers Due to Flight Delay

New Delhi: In a major setback for India’s wrestling contingent, star wrestlers Deepak Punia and Sujeet Kalakal missed the Asia Olympic Qualifiers in Bishkek after their flight arrived late in the Kyrgyzstan capital due to bad weather in Dubai.

Despite eventually reaching Bishkek after being stranded at the Dubai International Airport due to incessant rain and flooding, Punia and Kalakal failed to report for the mandatory weigh-in on time, according to sources familiar with the matter.

The Asia Olympic Qualifiers in Bishkek presented a crucial opportunity for Punia and Kalakal to secure their berths for the Paris Olympics, scheduled to commence on July 26. However, their late arrival and subsequent inability to participate in the weigh-in dashed their hopes of qualification.

The wrestlers were among a 17-member Indian squad scheduled to compete in the qualifiers. However, they found themselves stranded at the Dubai airport on Thursday as the city grappled with unprecedented rainfall, leading to flooding and flight disruptions.

The Sports Authority of India had assured that Punia and Kalakal would travel to Bishkek, with officials maintaining communication with the organisers of the Olympic qualifiers. Despite these efforts, the wrestlers missed out on their chance to compete in the continental event.

While the disappointment of missing the Asia Olympic Qualifiers is palpable, Punia and Kalakal will have another opportunity to secure their Olympic berths at the World Qualifiers in Turkey scheduled for May.

Meanwhile, the remaining Indian wrestlers, including Aman, Jaideep, Deepak (in a different weight category), and Sumit, will continue their quest for Olympic qualification in the men’s freestyle event at the Asia Olympic Qualifiers.

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