Cheema to lead 21-member wrestling team for World championship

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New Delhi, Sept 12 (UNI) Palwinder Singh Cheema will spearhead the Indian challenge as a 21-member wrestling team leaves on Saturday to take part in the World Wrestling Championship at Baku, Azerbaijan, from September 17 to 23.

Cheema, who won a bronze at the 2002 Busan Asian Games, made the grade at the trials conducted in NIS, Patiala, though he has been struggling to find form at international stage for quite some time.

The surprised exclusion from the team though was Anil Kumar Mann who won two gold in both freestyle and Greco-Roman of 96kg class in Ontario (Canada) in June.

The World championship is the first Olympic qualifying tournament and top eight finishers in each weight category will get a ticket to Beijing.

They will have three more Olympic qualifiers early next year besides the Asian championship to make it to the 2008 Olympics.

In the women's section, India will be represented in all the seven weight categories. But, wrestlers in only four weight classes will get Olympic berths as women's wrestling is conducted in Olympics only in 48kg, 55kg, 63kg and 72kg.

The team: Men: Freestyle: Anil Kumar (55kg), Yogeshwar Dutt (60kg), Sushil Kumar (66kg), Ramesh Kumar (74kg), Rambir (84kg), Rohit Patel (96kg), Palwinder Singh Cheema (120kg) Greco-Roman: KL Yadav (55kg), Ravinder Singh (60kg), Sunil Kumar (66kg), Bhupinder Thakur (74kg), Manoj Kumar (84kg), Randhir Singh (96kg), Devender (120kg) Women: Nirmal (48kg), Babita (51kg), Alka Tomar (55kg), Kamlesh (59kg), Geetika Jakhar (63kg), Suman Kundu (67kg), Minakshi (72kg) UNI

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