New Delhi: Wrestler Narsingh Pancham Yadav is a better bet than Olympic medallist Sushil Kumar in the 74 kg freestyle category at the Rio 2016, the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) on Friday told the Delhi High Court.
Yadav, who has secured Olympic quota for India by winning a bronze medal in the world wrestling championship 2015, was the "most suitable wrestler" and a better candidate compared to Sushil who had "consistently" avoided to face him during the last two years in selection trials, the WFI said.
Sushil countered the claims and alleged that he was not considered for a trial to have a chance to represent India at the Olympics in the 74 kg category as he had not participated in the cash-rich 'Pro-Wrestling League'.
"They (WFI) cannot take such an arbitrary stand that since you (Sushil) have not participated in the Pro-Wrestling League so you will not be given a chance to have a trial.
Sushil is only asking for a trial," senior counsel Amit Sibal, appearing for Sushil, told Justice Manmohan.
WFI, however, maintained that Yadav was the best wrestler to represent the country in this category and the selection has been made in a fair and transparent manner.
"The respondent number 5 (Yadav) has been found to be the best wrestler to represent India in the upcoming Olympic games. The selection has been made in a completely fair and transparent manner. No allegation of any bias, favouritism or any other prejudice have been made in the petition," WFI said in its affidavit filed in the court.
It said that Yadav, who was present in courtroom during the hearing, was clearly a better candidate in 74 kg freestyle category as he has been "dominantly" playing in this weight category since 2006 while Sushil had contested in 66 kg category till January 2014.
After his name did not figure in India's Rio preparatory camp, 32-year-old Sushil had moved the High Court with a plea to direct the WFI to conduct a selection trial to decide who will represent India in the men's 74kg freestyle category at the Rio Games.
Sushil's counsel also said that his client was the "prime contender" and an "exceptional athlete" and if no trial would be conducted, chances of India winning a medal in the event would be dented.
He said that when the selection trials were conducted way back in July last year, Sushil could not participate in it as he was injured.
The court has posted the matter for further arguments on May 30 and has asked WFI and Yadav's lawyer to file a short written synopsis by Saturday.
In its affidavit, WFI has told the court that pursuant to the direction given on May 17, Sushil had a meeting with the WFI's President, senior Vice President and Jagminder Singh, the chief coach, and no assurance was ever given to him that he would be considered to represent India in Olympics.
"When asked as to why he had not participated in any of the selection trial during the last two years where he could have had a chance to defeat Narsingh Yadav, the petitioner stated that he could not participate in the trials because of the injury. The President and the assistant secretary, WFI, who maintains the records, verified that no medical certificates were submitted by the petitioner," it claimed.
It also alleged that Sushil had not taken any permission from the chief coach to undergo a separate training in India as well as at Georgia.
Maintaining that his petition was not maintainable in law, the federation also said Yadav is the only Indian wrestler to have earned an Olympic quota in world wrestling championship by winning a medal.
"The above facts make it abundantly clear that the performance of Narsingh Yadav has been far better than that of the petitioner and he is the most suitable wrestler to represent the country in the category in question for Rio Olympics 2016," it claimed, adding that holding trial at this stage would upset the entire "apple cart of training of wrestlers."
Earlier on May 17, high court had said that "individuals may suffer" but the country has to be placed on a "higher pedestal" and had left it to the WFI to decide on India's challenge in 74 kg men's freestyle at the Rio Olympics.
Updated Date: May 27, 2016 21:54 PM