‘Administrative mess has hit boxing hard’: SAI DG

The Union sports ministry did not want to be drawn into the disagreement between Sushil Kumar and the Wrestling Federation of India, the Sports Authority of India’s Director General, Injeti Srinivas, stated here on Monday.

Shiva Thapa has yet qualified for the Rio Games, and Injeti Srinivas felt administrative woes had taken their toll.   -  PTI

The Union sports ministry did not want to be drawn into the disagreement between Sushil Kumar and the Wrestling Federation of India, the Sports Authority of India’s Director General, Injeti Srinivas, stated here on Monday. Sushil has demanded a trial to decide which of he or Narsingh Yadav will represent India in the 74-kg men’s freestyle wrestling event at the Olympics.

“We are in constant touch with every wrestler, be it Sushil, Narsingh or (Rahul) Aware,” said Srinivas. “It’s up to the Federation (WFI) to decide who goes for the event. Even the National Sports Code states that the final responsibility to choose an athlete for an international event stays with the Federation.

"And that’s a line, a ‘Lakshman Rekha’, that the government will never cross. If there’s inconsistency and arbitrariness, then they (the WFI) can be questioned. But unless there’s such a provocation, we will not want to involve ourselves in the matter.”

Srinivas, who was at the SAI South Centre here to meet Olympic-bound athletes, expressed worry over the fact that only boxer (Shiva Thapa) had yet qualified for the Rio Games, and felt administrative woes had taken their toll. It must be noted that India sent eight boxers to London 2012.

“The mess on the administrative front has hit the sport hard,” he said. “There’s no doubt that because of the infighting, there has been no light at the end of the dark tunnel. There are no domestic competitions worth naming; the boxers who are performing well are deprived of job opportunities, because institutions like the Railways and banks don’t consider you unless the federation is recognized. The women now have a qualifying tournament in Kazakhstan, and I hope the figure (of qualified boxers) will go somewhere near six. But I know the window is closing. It is a matter of worry.”

Srinivas had encouraging words for the athletes, among whom were the men’s and women’s hockey teams, marathoners, middle-distance runners, and para-athletes. The country’s attitude to sport, he felt, was changing. “The 2004 Olympics hardly created any excitement,” he said. “It was in 2008, when one of our athletes (Abhinav Bindra) won a gold, that suddenly there was a lot of happiness. The next morning, the papers in Beijing said: ‘One billion people and one gold’.

"They were mocking us, but it was a turning point for the sport of shooting. Since then, see how we have progressed. You are all national heroes. If you win a medal, it will be a moment of transformation for everyone.”

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