NEW DELHI: Double Olympic medallist Sushil Kumar’s hopes of competing at this year’s Rio de Janeiro Games were dashed as the Delhi high court dismissed on Monday the wrestler’s petition for a trial against the selected competitor.
The court accepted the Wrestling Federation of India’s stand that the official choice, 26-year-old Narsingh Yadav, was a better bet in the men’s 74-kg freestyle category in the Games starting August 5.
“Though Sushil is a legendary wrestler, who has won two Olympic medals, the opinion of WFI that on current form Narsingh is better in the 74-kg weight category cannot be termed as unreasonable or perverse,” justice Manmohan said.
Sushil won a bronze medal in the 2008 Beijing Olympics and followed it up with silver in the 2012 London Games. He won both medals in the 66kg category but had to move to 74kg as the international wrestling association reshuffles the weight divisions after the London Games.
The court wondered why 33-year-old Sushil challenged Narsingh to a “duel” so late and took note of the WFI’s opinion that the selected athlete was in good form and can’t afford an injury during a trial less than two months before the Olympics.
“In the international arena of sport, medals are won not by brawn but also by brain … In the duel asked for, the country will be the loser,” justice Manmohan said.
The court held that the national sports code gave autonomy to the WFI to decide on the selection and trials.
The court reminded Sushil that he was absent from trials or events since September 2014 but was able to make it to three Olympics — 2004, 2008 and 2012 — only by winning a quota.
Sushil’s team hasn’t given up, though. Raman Raheja, whose company Super Sports handles his commercial interests, said they would decide the next step by Tuesday afternoon.
“It is a setback but we are not giving up. We couldn’t have a detailed discussion with our counsel Amit Sibal after the verdict. We have to decide whether approaching a double bench of the high court will be beneficial or we should approach the Supreme Court,” he said.
Sushil’s mentor and fatherin-law Mahabali Satpal was upset with the verdict, saying the former world champion should not be denied a chance to at least get a trial.