For India's flag-bearer, it's pay & play in London | chandigarh | Hindustan Times
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For India's flag-bearer, it's pay & play in London

chandigarh Updated: Jul 21, 2012 14:18 IST
Saurabh Duggal
london olympics

The man chosen to hold the Tri-colour aloft at the London Olympic Games opening ceremony is also the one who will be shelling out money from his pocket to pay his physiotherapist.

Bizarre but true, Sushil Kumar, the flag-bearer, is left with no choice but to pay for national team physiotherapist Arvinderpal Singh's ticket to London and also take care of his boarding and lodging because the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) and Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) feel officials and managers are more important than masseurs and physios.

The WFI has given accreditation to three coaches and a manager to accompany the five-member squad, while the person who facilitates the quick recovery of grapplers in between bouts by helping them overcome niggles and sprains, has been ignored.

Not taking a chance

Not willing to take a chance like in Beijing - Sushil, who fought four bouts in a day with no one to tend to his body, has solicited the services of Arvinderpal, who has been with him at the national camp in Sonepat for the last two years.

"When I came to know that the IOA had not included Arvinderpal for London, I decided I would bear his expenses," said Sushil, the 66kg grappler.

"A physio is an important part of the support system in our game. The extremely competitive nature of our sport and the fact that we have to fight four to six bouts in a day makes it imperative that we have a full-time physio. Without him, we can never be at our best," said Sushil, adding that, since Arvinderpal had been attached with the squad for a long time, he "knows our individual requirements".

By his side always

Arvinderpal was with Sushil when he became the first Indian to win the world title in 2010. The physio was by Sushil's side when he also won the Asian championship and Commonwealth Games gold. "He has always been a great help and has full knowledge of our injuries and niggles. Over a period of time, we have developed faith in each others' abilities," said Sushil.

"Now, the least the WFI and IOA can do is to give Arvinderpal a letter stating that his services are required in London, so that he has no problem getting the necessary visa on time," said Sushil.

Without an accreditation card, it's not possible for Arvinderpal to be present at the competition venue, but he can visit the Games Village on a guest pass to tend to Sushil and the other grapplers.

"We will try our best to get him entry to the competition arena on the day of our events. If that doesn't happen, we would be handicapped," said Sushil.