Sushil-Narsingh tussle: Who is right and who is wrong?

Even as various experts share their views on one of the most contentious topics in Indian wrestling, the issue, which is in the court of law, is bound to take some time to reach a definite conclusion. It will be interesting to see how long the legal battle continues and who emerges the eventual ‘winner.’

Vinod Kumar (middle) was the chief national wrestling coach at the time of the 2010 Commonwealth Games. He feels that Sushil Kumar's stand is right in the current controversy.

Coach Mahabir Prasad, a Dronacharya awardee, is on the side of Narsingh Yadav. He feels that Sushil Kumar has not proven himself enough in the 74 kg category.   -  S. SUBRAMANIUM

Sushil Kumar’s demand for a trial with Narsingh Yadav for the 74 kg freestyle slot in the Rio Olympics has triggered a debate about what is proper and what is improper, and who is right and who is wrong. One can hear multiple opinions on the issue, which has dominated the Indian sporting scene of late.

While the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI), which has stayed away from the talk of a trial between the two, has its reasons for favouring Narsingh, several prominent wrestlers of yesteryear have questioned the national federation’s decision to not allow a two-time Olympic medallist and a former World champion a chance to go to the Olympics. Vinod Kumar, a former National chief coach, feels Sushil had no option left when he decided to move the court. “Sushil only asked for a trial but the WFI did not tell whether it will hold any trial or not.

He along with several training partners trained in Georgia at Government cost. The federation supported it but did not tell him that he will not be considered for the Olympics,” said Vinod.

“Sushil has achieved so much for the country. What is the problem in holding a trial for him! Several top wrestling countries adopt the practice of holding trials to pick their Olympic squads.”

Olympian Gian Singh also favours a trial for Sushil. “The best wrestler should go. In other weights, the most talented wrestlers participated in the trials and lost but Sushil did not take part in the trials due to an injury. So, nobody else should complain about a standalone trial.” However, Dronacharya award winning coach Mahabir Prasad had a different view. According to Mahabir, Sushil, who won all his big medals in 66 kg, should have taken part in other competitions to prove his fitness and form in 74 kg. “Sushil has stayed away from competitions and trials for too long. He should have competed in at least two events this year to show that he is in good form. Now there is a doubt whether he can compete in three-four bouts in a row.

Had he won two-three medals in recent competitions he would have emerged as the rightful claimant for a trial with Narsingh. All the big wrestlers from all over the world compete in at least two-three tournaments every year. This is the reason why everybody is sympathetic towards Narsingh, who won the World championship bronze medal and bagged the Olympic quota place.”

On the other hand, Mahabir feels the WFI could have done a better job of handling the dispute. “Once Narsingh sealed the quota place in Las Vegas last year, the WFI should have told Sushil very clearly that the door is closed for him. Instead, it supported his training stint in Georgia. As a result, he remained hopeful.”

According to former National champion and well-known wrestling commentator Jagdish Kaliraman, nobody is to be blamed for the fiasco. “Sushil is a two-time Olympic champion, while Narsingh has won medals recently in elite events and has been performing consistently. Narsingh has got the quota place and is keen to compete, Sushil has his aspirations for which he has approached the court. The Olympics is the biggest stage for sportspersons and everybody aspires to go there. So, there is nothing right or wrong.”

Even as various experts share their views on one of the most contentious topics in Indian wrestling, the issue, which is in the court of law, is bound to take some time to reach a definite conclusion. It will be interesting to see how long the legal battle continues and who emerges as the eventual ‘winner.’