WFI to meet Sushil today, Olympic hopes recede
The Federation says it would set a wrong precedent and might “finish Indian wrestling”.Following the HC directive, the Wrestling Federation of India President Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh decided to hold a meeting with the two-time Olympic medallist on Wednesday, to sort out what has snowballed into a major controversy ahead of the mega-event in August.
Having already won two individual medals at the last two Olympics, the 32-year-old is one of India’s biggest sporting icons but the WFI, notwithstanding, is keen on sending quota winner Narsingh Pancham Yadav to the upcoming Games.
“I will be conducting a meeting on Wednesday. Earlier, there was supposed to be a selection committee but now that the court has directed us to form a four-member committee, we will meet on Wednesday and then put forward our opinion,” Brij Bhushan told PTI on Tuesday.
The Delhi High Court on Tuesday said that a committee consisting of the President, Vice President, Secretary and the chief coach should meet Sushil at the earliest and since the federation was an autonomous body, it should try and resolve the matter amicably.
The court has also sought the response of the Sports Ministry and WFI and asked them to file their affidavits before its next hearing on May 27.
Making it clear that WFI would not like to conduct a trial, Brij Bhushan said this practice may harm Indian wrestling severely. “Till now, a wrestler believes that if he/she brings a quota, he/she will go to the Olympics. But the day it would become a norm that even if one athlete brings a quota but someone else may go to the Olympics, that day wrestling in India would be finished,” he insisted.
The WFI president also said that this ongoing furore has put qualified wrestlers in other division under pressure too. “Because of this issue, our other qualified wrestlers are also under pressure and not just the ones in 74kg. Everyone is worried that if trial is conducted in one category, then others will also demand for trials. This is also not justified that we hold trial in just one weight division. So all the grapplers, who have qualified are disturbed and that is hampering their preparations,” said Brij Bhushan.
On whether WFI is also under pressure, Brij Bhushan said, “No. If people are blaming WFI, I want to ask what we have done? We have only forwarded the names of those who have bagged quota places. If forwarding their names is an offence then yes, I have committed that offence.”
He, however, conceded that finally if things don’t get sorted out, WFI would accept the court’s decision. “If things don’t get sorted, ultimately whatever directive we get from the Court, we will accept it,” said Brij Bhushan.
Sushil had moved the court as the last resort as before approaching the Delhi High Court, he had taken the matter to the doorsteps of Prime Minister’s Office.
Sushil had also appealed to the Sports Ministry, IOA, WFI and fans to give him a chance to undergo a trial for the Rio Games, as according to the rules, quota belongs to the country and not to a particular wrestler.
Sushil had argued that the government has spent a substantial amount of money on his training.
Narsingh has been staking his claim to represent India at the Olympics since last year when he secured a quota place at the World Championship in Las Vegas after winning a bronze in 74kg. Sushil, who missed the event due to a shoulder injury, has been demanding a trial.
Meanwhile, it is also learnt that Babita Kumari, who has qualified after Mongolian wrestler Sumiya Erdenechimeg failed the dope test in women’s 53kg freestyle, has been pardoned for forfeiting her bout in a recent qualifying event and is now allowed to compete at the Olympics Games in Rio.