Narsingh better than Sushil, WFI tells Delhi HC

Narsingh Yadav, who secured Olympic quota for India by winning a bronze medal in the world wrestling championship 2015, was the "most suitable wrestler" (for Rio) and a better candidate than Sushil Kumar, who had "consistently" avoided facing him during the last two years in selection trials, the WFI said.

Sushil Kumar has won a bronze and silver medals in 2008 and 2012 Olympics in 66 kg freestyle wrestling.   -  Getty Images

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, which adjourned the hearing till May 30.

Yadav, who 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 facing 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. 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 allegations 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 74 kg freestyle category at the Rio Games.

WFI told the court that decision to send 26-year-old Yadav for 74 kg category at the Rio Olympics was taken by it in a “discreet manner” after evaluating performance of wrestlers in this weight class on the basis of their achievements, current performance and assessment of the chief coach and the trainers at the training camps.

“It is submitted that no interference is called for in the selection made by the said expert body (WFI),” it said.

Senior advocate Nidesh Gupta, who appeared for Yadav, said that name of his client has been sent for the Olympics as he has secured a quota for the country.

“If a trial is conducted today, the qualification events would be rendered meaningless,” he said, adding that there was no “dispute about national glory”.

He said the selection was made by following a fair process and nothing “arbitrary or perverse” has happened.

On Sushil’s allegation that he was not been given a trial as he had not participated in Pro-Wrestling League, the WFI said there was no bias towards Sushil.

“Till date, there has not been even a solitary instance in India or to the best of our knowledge, even in the world, that the person who has won a quota for his country has not been sent for the Olympics,” the WFI’s counsel said, adding, “it is the prerogative of the country to send wrestler for a event.”

He also said Yadav has defeated six out of 18 wrestlers who would participate in the Olympics in this category.

However, Sushil’s counsel said that WFI should try to maximise the chances of winning medals and his client was way ahead as far as international events were concerned.

“Holding a trial is one of the best ways to have a fair event and reduce political or other influence and frivolous selection,” he said.

“Olympics is the apex event and there is a requirement of trial which has to be conducted in a fair manner and on an advance notice. This has to be done to maintain transparency. The petitioner (Sushil) is arguably the most successful athlete India has even produced as he has won two Olympic medals in individual event,” Sibal said.

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