Sunday, May 15, 2016

Rio Olympics 2016: WFI must act quickly on men’s freestyle 74-kg representation


He won gold at the 2010 Commonwealth Games despite being a late-minute entrant and had won a bronze at the 2014 Incheon Asian Games as well. It is seen in Indian wrestling that selection trials are held for each weight category to assess the current form of a grappler before any international event, and when a quota is earned for Olympics, a person who wins the quota invariably gets to play in the Olympics.

The Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) is greeted by an ‘unwanted crisis’ – whom to pick in the men’s freestyle 74kg for the 2016 Rio Olympics. The controversy got its birth after Narsingh Yadav won a bronze medal at the 2015 World Championship in Las Vegas, USA last year- thus ensuring the country’s Olympic quota for that weight category.

It was the WFI who had talked about holding trials to pick the country’s representative in the men’s freestyle 74kg. What hasn’t helped matters is that both players are openly talking about it in public domain. Narsingh Yadav has been vocal that he deserves the right to represent India at Rio.

The Mumbai lad has for a long time wrestled in the 74kg, while Sushil Kumar switched to 74kg from 66kg only a few years back. Performance counts and Narsingh has won medals at major international competitions.
Sushil is not saying he should be picked ahead of Narsingh. All he is asking for is a trial between the two.
Narsingh has been harping on this point and to some extent appears justified in saying so.
Sushil hasn’t played in any competitive event since the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games – this may just go against him but make no mistake, this champion wrestler is believed to be training very hard for the Rio Olympics. Narsingh has been categorical that he deserved to book the flight to Rio for the men’s freestyle 74kg.

It may not be easy for the WFI to satisfy the concerns of both wrestlers. A country, which rides high on emotions and past laurels, may just see Sushil have the last laugh – the much-anticipated trial could be the best possible answer to calm the chit-chat going on in public domain.

The WFI must talk to both wrestlers and ask them to refrain from making comments on the issue. The federation, on its part, must take a call sooner than later so that the Olympic preparations of the wrestling contingent remain the main focus area and not the unwanted controversy generated over who gets to represent India at the Rio Olympics in the men’s freestyle 74kg.
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