With just five days for the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony, Sushil Kumar’s name was mysteriously missing from the entry list released on the official website of the Gold Coast event on Thursday. The two-time Olympic medalist, and the favourite in the 74kg freestyle category, will have to wait till Friday to know if he gets a shot at his third straight CWG gold.
The Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) and Indian Olympic Association (IOA) were in dark about Sushil’s omission. When informed, they said the issue would be raised with the organising committee. Sushil, who is in currently training in Georgia, is understood to have made multiple panic-stricken calls to the WFI officials on Thursday evening.
IOA president Narinder Batra said they had received Sushil’s accreditation card for the Games and confirmed that his name was also included in the Delegation Registration Meeting, where the final contingent list was handed over to the organising committee. Curiously, though, the 34-year-old, whose relationship with the federation and some teammates has soured over the last few months, is the only Indian wrestler whose name is missing.
The federation’s assistant secretary, Vinod Tomar, said it could either be a ‘technical or clerical error’. “From what we understand, it could be a technical error since there the entry forms had to be submitted online. We have raised the issue with the IOA as well as the event organisers. But since it was already late in the night in Gold Coast, we will know the actual reason on Friday,” Tomar said.
Batra added: “I have asked our contingent officials to find out what has gone wrong. Everything is clear from our end, all the paperwork was done in time and we have also received his accreditation card.”
The Commonwealth Games will be Sushil’s first major tournament since competing in the 2014 edition that was held in Glasgow. After nursing an injury for almost a year, his comeback bid for the 2016 Olympics ended abruptly after he had a fall out with the federation. Last year, he again returned to the mat with a target of competing at the Gold Coast Games.
However, he has courted controversy ever since. At the National Championships last year in Indore, Sushil won the gold medal without breaking much sweat as most of his competitors refused to challenge him. In December, after he won the selection trials for the Commonwealth Games, his supporters allegedly beat up his opponent Parveen Rana for adopting an aggressive strategy during their bout. Rana later filed an FIR, in which Sushil was also named.
Amidst the controversies, Sushil has trained alone in Georgia for the Games while rest of the Indian wrestlers are at the national camp in Sonepat. He is scheduled to return to Delhi on April 1 and leave for Gold Coast on April 8, while the other Indian wrestlers leave on April 6.