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No change in Olympic qualification policy: Wrestling Federation president

FEATURED COLUMNIST
News
499   //    17 May 2017, 11:54 IST
Sushil Kumar (left) and Narsingh Yadav were involved in a huge controversy last year

What’s the story?

Despite the huge controversy involving grapplers Narsingh Yadav and Sushil Kumar that rocked the nation last year, the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) has clarified that the policy for the final selection will remain the same. Vinod Tomar, the WFI secretary, told the Hindustan Times, “It’s final. There will be no change in the selection policy for the Olympic Games.”

This means that the wrestler who wins the quota for the Olympics will be the one that will represent the country at the Games. However, the criteria will be different for the World Championships, Asian Games and Commonwealth Games. In these competitions, trials will take place and in case the winner is unable to make it, the next best shall be chosen.

Tomar added, “Since the grapplers are aware of the strategy of the WFI, we hope there won’t be any controversy this time around.”

In case you didn’t know

A huge controversy erupted prior to the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro last year regarding who would represent India in the 74kg freestyle event. 

The heart of the matter

Narsingh Yadav had won India a qualifying berth in Rio after his bronze-winning performance at the 2015 World Championships. However, he contested in the same weight category as two-time Olympic medalist Sushil Kumar, who had not taken part in the tournament.

There was a lot of hue and cry over who should go to the Olympics, with Sushil appealing for a trial match to decide the matter. His request was denied by the federation after which he went to the Delhi High Court, where the case was ruled in favour of Narsingh.

In the end though, Narsingh also did not take part at the Olympics after he failed a doping test before the event and his subsequent appeal at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) was turned down. 

What’ s next?

The two biggest names in Indian wrestling – Sushil Kumar and Yogeshwar Dutt are now inching towards retirement and it remains to be seen who will take the baton forward. At the recently concluded Asian Championships in Delhi, India finished with a total of 10 medals.

Sakshi Malik, a bronze medalist in Rio, and Vinesh Phogat both reached the finals of their events and won silver medals, while India’s only gold was won by Bajrang Punia in the 65kg category. Preparation is now underway for the World Championships, which will be held in Paris in the month of August.

Author’s take

Even if the next Olympics are three years away, it is a good move by the WFI to clarify the selection policy well in advance. Hopefully, this will avoid any controversy in the future and the Narsingh-Sushil episode will not be repeated.

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