Sushil Kumar’s shot at winning third successive Olympic medal is all but over. The Delhi High Court dismissed his plea that sought that trials be held in the 74kg weight category, in which Narsingh Pancham Yadav had won India the quota for the Rio Olympics.
While giving its judgement the honourable court may have accepted Wrestling Federation of India’s stand that Narsingh was there preferable choice for the Rio Games, the decision to not hold the trials was based on other fact rather than winnability.
WFI’s insistence of not holding trial in the said weight category stems from the fear that were they to allow a trial, then others who did not win berths, will also demand the same. Indians have secured eight weightlifting berths — five in freestyle, two in female wrestling and a solitary one in greco roman —for Rio Games.
WFI president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh had raised tradition of not holding the trial as an excuse for rebuffing Sushil’s request of a trial. But privately he and other officials have contended that trials will be discouraging for people who win berths. “It becomes an incentive for people who don’t work hard for three years as they think if they beat the quota winner, they will represent India”.
The thinking may be right, but the federation cannot wash away its hands clean from the controversy as they have been involved in the same tactics of favouring one wrestler over the year on a number of times.
Sushil was sent to the Glasgow Commonwealth Games in 2014 on the back of little match practice and without holding the trials. At that time Narsingh was the slighted party as the federation rebuffed his requests for trial before the Games.
Yogeshwar Dutt was sent to the 2015 World Championships, where he had to pull out due to an injury. His competitor in the 65kg weight division, Amit Dhankar, had been saying the same that the London bronze medallist was carrying an injury, his requests was done away with too.
The federation sent two set of wrestlers in several weight category for the last two Olympic qualifiers –Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia (April 20-22) and Istanbul, Turkey (May 6-8).
The grappler who was beaten in the trials was also on the flight with the guy who had won to win a spot for these tournaments. Rahul Aware had beaten Sandeep Tomar and Amit Kumar in the 57kg trials, but Tomar was assured of a chance in one of the two tournaments. Similarly, Geeta Phogat was entered in Ulaanbaatar, ahead of Sakshi Malik, who was the winner of the trial.
Sushil’s only shows how unprofessionally the game is being run. Sushil’s rebuff of playing in the inaugural Pro-Wrestling League may have played its part in the saga. How else can you explain the big falling out between Sushil and the federation that was only too keen to accommodate all his wishes till about six months ago?
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