Rio 2016: WFI passes 'sensitive' Sushil-Narsingh issue to government

New Delhi: The Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) on Friday put the onus of holding a selection trial to choose between Sushil Kumar and Narsingh Pancham Yadav for this year's Olympic Games on the government, saying the WFI alone cannot decide on the "sensitive matter".

WFI president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh said the Federation would wait for the government to give direction regarding holding the trial in the contentious 74 kg freestyle category.

"Since Sushil has written to the Sports Ministry, the matter is not in WFI's hands. So we will wait for the government's direction on how to go about the trial issue," the WFI chief told PTI.

File photo of Sushil Kumar. AP

File photo of Sushil Kumar. AP

"This is very sensitive matter and I cannot decide alone. As and when we get any instructions from the Government, we will decide. In any case, the WFI will refer the matter to the selection committee, which would include an Olympian, an Arjuna awardee, chief coach, general secretary among others.

And then the matter would be decided by the committee. It is not right for me to speculate anything now. There is a procedure that has to be followed," he added.

Asked about his personal opinion on who between Sushil and Narsingh should go to Rio, Singh said: "In India, it has been a practice to send that wrestler to the Olympics who has won a quota place. Although a quota belongs to the country, it has been a practice to send the winner who has secured the quota.

Citing the example of the 2004 Olympics, Singh said Kirpa Shankar had approached the court against Yogeshwar Dutt before the Games, but his appeal was ruled down.

"Before the 2004 Olympics, Kripa Shankar had approached the court to have trials with Yogeshwar. But the Court had ruled that the wrestler who had bagged the quota place should go to the Olympics," he recalled.

Singh admitted that the current scenario is an extremely tricky situation, considering that Sushil has taken Indian wrestling to where it is as of now, and Narsingh is the only Indian wrestler to have bagged an Olympic quota with a medal at the World Championship.

"Narsingh had not only won the Olympic quota with a bronze medal at the World championship but has been doing  consistently well in 74 kg. While Sushil's contributions cannot be ignored. He has taken Indian wrestling to a different level.

"But one has to see that his Olympics medals came in 66 kg division. So, it would be unfair to take any hasty decision. Both their achievements deserve to be respected and taken into consideration," he said.

The WFI is likely to meet next week to break the deadlock, which is threatening to snowball into a massive furore.

"A meeting is likely to be held on Tuesday when a final decision on whether the trials will be conducted would be taken in all probability," a WFI source told PTI.

With Sushil having written letters to both the Sports Ministry as well as the WFI, his case is likely to be referred to the selection committee, which in turn will decide whether to hold the trials.

The 32-year-old is contemplating approaching Sports Minister Sarbananda Sonowal if his demand for a trial is not accepted by WFI.

"Next week the selection committee would be asked to consider the request of Sushil, who has written a letter, asking for a trial. Then it would be up to the selection committee to decide whether to hold the trials and whatever it decides, the Federation would be okay with it," informed the official.

Narsingh had secured the Olympic quota place for India last year at the World Championship in Las Vegas after winning a bronze in 74 kg category.

Since then the Maharashtra grappler has been staking his claim for the berth, while double Olympic-medallist Sushil who missed the event owing to a shoulder injury, has asked fo a trial to determine who ultimately represents India at th Rio Games.

There is speculation that the Federation is not too keen on holding the trial in men's 74 kg freestyle category as it might prompt a few other wrestlers to demand trials in other weight divisions as well.

Keen to avoid any trouble, WFI had asked the Sport Ministry to take the decision. However, the Ministry has put the ball back into the Federation's court.

"While WFI asked the Sports Ministry to take a final decision, the Ministry in turn has refused to interfere in the Federation's affairs and asked it to take a call," the source said.

Meanwhile, former chief coach Vinod Kumar, who has been training Sushil at Sonepat's SAI centre, said the former world champion had been told by WFI itself to keep himself prepared for the trials.

"In the last one year, Sushil's sole focus is on preparing for Rio. The Government has spent a lot of money on him and even WFI always encouraged him to keep practising.

"Had WFI told Sushil earlier that Narsingh would be going to Rio, he would not have made so many sacrifices and worked so hard," said Vinod Kumar.

"We want the trials to be held as soon as possible. Sushil is fully fit."

Sushil also reiterated his demand for a trial.

"I have been away from my family for almost a year now. My only focus is on Rio and I have been working extremely hard. It is only just that I am given a chance.

All I am asking for is trials. I am not saying that you send me to Rio because of my glorious past. I am only saying that whoever between me and Narsingh is better, should represent the country at the Olympics."

Meanwhile, Narsingh has maintained that it was his right to go to Rio as he was the one who has secured the berth.

"Going to Rio is my right. I have achieved this right by performing consistently and winning India the quota at the World Championships. So, I should be given my due."

Sushil had won a bronze medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and a silver at the London Games four years later in men's 66 kg freestyle. But since the weight divisions were rejigged by the world body, Sushil has moved up to 74 kg division.

The Haryana-lad excelled in the new category as well by winning the 2014 Commonwealth Games gold medal before the lengthy injury layoff.

Narsingh had participated at the 2012 London Olympics in 74 kg category but was ousted in the first round.

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Updated Date: May 14, 2016 08:22:27 IST