WFI policy change: Olympic quota winners may have to appear in trials, multi-teams not allowed at Nationals

The Wrestling Federation of India has decided that if it deems required, then it will ask the quota winning wrestlers to appear in trials before finalising the Indian team for next Olympics, a move which has irked the top athletes.

Wrestling Mat

The WFI also passed the resolution that no state will be allowed to field more than one team at the Nationals.   -  Getty Images/ Representative Image

In a major policy change, the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) on Friday decided that if it deems required, then it will ask the quota winning wrestlers to appear in trials before finalising the Indian team for next Olympics, a move which has irked the top athletes.

The WFI held its AGM in Gonda and in another major decision, it passed the resolution that no state will be allowed to field more than one team at the Nationals, something that will hurt Haryana the most.

Till recently, WFI had let the quota winners keep place for the Olympics but it feels this move will keep top wrestlers "on their toes".

"Sometimes the athlete hide injury and go into the Games despite being injured or not being in form. It hurts medal chances. Also, once the quota is sealed and it remains with the quota-winner, other athletes in that particular category lose motivation," a senior WFI official told PTI after the AGM.

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A top athlete, who did not wish to be named, termed the move as "unfair". "This is really de-motivating. It should not have been done. The quota should stay with quote winner only," the wrestler said.

However, it will not be compulsory that all athletes will be asked to appear in trials. And if the trials are held, the quota winner will not appear in the initial trials in that particular category, rather he/she will compete with the winner of those trials. And if the quota-winner loses the bout to the trials' winner, he/she will be given one more opportunity to keep the quota through a second bout against the same opponent.

- Big setback for Haryana -

The WFI's decision to put a cap on team participation at the Nationals is a big setback for teams such as Haryana, Railways and Services since these teams have maximum participation and it will significantly hurt their medal chances.

Even at the ongoing Nationals in Gonda, these three teams have fielded A and B teams along with Delhi. These teams have so many good wrestlers that accommodating all in one team is not possible.

While the WFI's move is intended to let wrestlers from weaker states get more opportunities, Haryana and Services feel it will certainly hurt game's growth. The WFI's idea behind the move is that wrestlers from the formidable Haryana team end up fielding as many as six wrestlers in each category and it is unfair for other states.

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"What happens is that Haryana field one wrestler each in A and B teams and most of the time the athletes that Railways and Services field, also happen to be from Haryana. That way, Haryana end up having six wrestlers in a category and their medal chances are maximum that way which is unfair to other states.

"We want to set it right. Let Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Odisha and other states win medals at Nationals. That will make wrestling popular in other states," said the official.

Rajkumar Hooda, Secetary General of Haryana Wrestling Federation, wore a dejected look after the AGM. "It is unfair on Haryana. It will not only hurt our state but country's wrestling. All seven Olympians came from Haryana and despite that we are being targeted," he said.

Vijender, who is attached with Haryana Sports Department, too expressed his surprise at WFI's decision. "Every state has its own USP. Like Haryana is good in contact sports and other states are good in some other sports. Why tinker that?," Vijender, who runs Mahadev Kushti Academy in Rohtak, said.

Senior Services coach Kuldeep Singh said, "Services empolys so many wrestlers. This is going to to discourage a lot people from taking up this sport."

The WFI also decided that no wrestler will allowed to switch state and the athlete can represent only the state where he/she was born.

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