Two-time Olympic Games medallist Sushil Kumar and Yogeshwar Dutt -- winner of 2012 London Games bronze -- have decided to skip the national preparatory camp that got underway at the SAI centre in Sonepat, Haryana on Monday.
Chief coach Jagminder Singh said, Sushil and Yogeshwar are not among the 37 probables selected for the camp. “They didn’t give their consent, hence we haven’t included them,” he said. Speculation is rife whether the two will compete in the Asian Championships -- the first major event of 2017 -- to be held in New Delhi from May 10-14. Singh said the final selection trials will be conducted later this month.
Despite skipping the camp, Singh said, Sushil and Yogeshwar have a chance to compete in the trials. “I think that shouldn’t be an issue. But they have to earn a place in the final squad. There is no provision of direct entry.”
Two other wrestlers, after giving their consent, did not report for the camp. “This is a serious issue,” said Singh, adding, “They haven’t given any reason. If they don’t inform the federation, they might not get to participate in the trials.”
Sushil and Yogeshwar have also not announced their plans, so it’s uncertain whether they will appear for trials for the Asian meet. Sushil has been out of action since June. After skipping the Olympics qualifying rounds in 2015-16, he claimed competition fitness in May last and urged the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) to conduct trials in 74kg.
Since the WFI was reluctant, Sushil knocked at the doors of the high court. Eventually, the trials were not held and Narsingh Yadav, who had won the Rio quota place, was chosen. Yadav was later dropped from the team due to anti-doping violation and provisionally suspended.
After Sushil’s dream of representing the country in Rio was shattered, he withdrew from the Pro Wrestling League (PWL) auction. There have been rumours that Sushil is planning to join World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) later this year. But he has denied the move.
Yogeshwar, after his unimpressive showing in Rio 2016, skipped the PWL in January and recently got married.
However, Rio bronze-medallist, Sakshi Malik, has joined the national camp in Lucknow, according to WFI secretary Vinod Tomar.