Terming it as “unfortunate” that two world class wrestlers are at loggerheads with each other over who will represent India at the Rio Olympics, the Delhi High Court on Monday remarked they should not be used as “pawns” in the politics of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI).
“They are both bonafide wrestlers. They should not be used as pawns. I don’t think they understand what they are doing. All these are happening because of politics in the federation. This is shocking,” Justice Manmohan said.
The court’s remarks came during the hearing of arguments on a plea of wrestler Sushil Kumar who asked for trials to be held for the 74kg category to enable him a chance to secure a berth in the Indian wrestling squad for the Rio Olympics.
During the hearing, senior advocate Nidhesh Gupta, appearing for Narsingh Yadav, contended that Yadav, 26, has secured a berth for the country by winning a medal in the World Wrestling Championship held last year, while Sushil Kumar has not participated in any event after July 2014.
Gupta said that the qualifying time for the Rio Olympics was between September 2015 and May 2016, so it was already late for trials. He said that the names of all the athletes who are going to participate in Rio have been sent on Monday. The court would continue hearing arguments in the case on June 1.
Sushil Kumar took a bronze in the 2008 Beijing Olympics and then silver in the 2012 London Olympics in the 66kg division, but the category was abolished by the International Wrestling Federation (FILA) in 2014.
This prompted him to move up to the 74kg weight category which brought him into direct competition with Narsingh Yadav, who was the top Indian wrestler in this class till then.
Sushil Kumar, 32, missed the qualification for Rio Olympics due to injury, and Narsingh Yadav was able to secure the berth for representing the country.
After repeatedly requesting the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) for holding trials anew and being denied time and again, Sushil Kumar moved the court for relief.