Declaring Narsingh Yadav earlier as India's contender would have averted controversy: Sushil Kumar’s coach Satpal Singh
The Sushil Kumar-Narsingh Yadav issue has brought ‘unwanted negative publicity’ for Indian wrestling. And for Satpal Singh – coach and father-in-law of Sushil Kumar, all the eyeballs generated over this issue could have been avoided.
“For me, the country comes first – individuals don’t matter. It’s been nine months when Narsingh Yadav secured his 74-kg Olympic berth at the 2015 World Championship in Las Vegas by winning a bronze medal there. If at that time, the federation had declared that only the quota winner will make it to the Rio Olympics, then such a controversy could have been avoided. A lot of money was spent on Sushil’s training, which also could have been avoided,” Satpal opens up with a tinge of sadness evident in his voice.
The former wrestling legend, who was a gold medallist at the 1982 New Delhi Asian Games, says the federation kept talking about conducting trials after Narsingh won an Olympic berth in Las Vegas. “If there were no trials happening, it should have been informed to all after the 2015 World Championships – the way everything unfolded it is not good for the morale of a man who brought Indian wrestling on the world stage with back-to-back Olympic medals,” Satpal observes.
The wrestling guru has nothing against Narsingh Yadav. “He is like my student as Sushil is. The positive thing about conduct trials between Sushil and Narsingh is that whoever wins it will be brimming with confidence going into the Rio Olympics. Look, if Narsingh can beat Sushil in the trials, I believe he will be soaring in confidence and can give us a medal at Rio. On the other hand, if Sushil wins the trials, the matter ends there as he would look like earning his Olympic berth. Anyway, Sushil is not asking for a backdoor entry, only asking for a trial because he is the best form of his life and has really worked hard for the Olympics. He is regularly beating wrestlers in upper weight categories in practice,” he remarks.
Satpal recalled a couple of moments when Sushil had defeated Narsingh at the domestic level. “I can’t exactly recall the year – it must have been seven-eight years back in an Inter-Railway Tournament. Sushil was playing for Northern Railway while Narsingh was playing for Western Railway – Sushil was tipped to play in 66-kg but was asked to take on Narsingh in 84-kg and he defeated him there and again he beat him at the senior nationals.”
The wrestling great fired an emotional parting shot. “Whatever has happened is really unfortunate for Indian wrestling.”