Caught in a fix on holding a selection trial to choose between Sushil Kumar and Narsingh Pancham Yadav for this year’s Olympic Games, the Wrestling Federation of India is likely to meet on Tuesday 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 source in WFI 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.
“On Tuesday, 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 74kg 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 for a trial to determine who ultimately represents India at the Rio Games.
There is speculation that the Federation is not too keen on holding the trail in men’s 74kg 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 Sports 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 trails.
“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 trails. 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 year later in men’s 66kg freestyle. But since the weight divisions were rejigged by the world body, Sushil has moved up to 74kg 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 74kg category but was ousted in the first round.