Renowed wrestling coach Satpal Singh has denied reports that his protege Sushil Kumar has been omitted from the Indian squad for the Rio Olympics, asserting that the double Olympic medallist is ready for a trial against Narsingh Pancham Yadav.
Doubts were raised over Sushil’s chances of going for the Rio Olympics with the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) omitting his name from the list of probables sent to the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) for accreditations.
According to media reports on Wednesday, WFI president Brijbhushan Sharan Singh had himself refused to accept or deny the probability of a trial between Sushil and Olympic quota winner Narsingh Yadav to decide India’s representative for the men’s 74kg freestyle category.
Satpal, however, asserted that the list sent by the WFI to the IOA is not the final one and voiced confidence that his ward will emerge triumphant in the trials.
“The list of probables sent to the IOA was not the final one. The final list will be sent to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and can be changed 12 hours prior to the event. The list sent to the IOA is a preliminary one and includes Narsingh’s name as he was the one who won the quota place,” Satpal told IANS.
“Sushil could not go for the Olympic qualification tournaments or face Narsingh in the trials until now as he was recovering from a shoulder injury. But he is fit now and ready to face the challenge,” he added.
Sushil, who had won bronze at the 2008 Olympics and silver at the 2012 Games in London, was the World No.1 in the 66kg freestyle category which was abolished by the International Wrestling Federation (FILA) in 2014.
The development prompted Sushil to move up a weight category to the 74kg division which brought him into direct competition with Narsingh who was the top Indian wrestler in that category till then.
“The 74kg is the toughest category and there is a lot of competition in that category at the international level. We should send the wrestler who is the best bet to win a medal at the Olympics. Sushil himself had said that he is ready to face a trial and will happilly accept the result if Narsingh manages to beat him,” Satpal said.
“Countries all over the world hold national trials to decide on their final squads. Russia had recently completed their national trials. Other strong wrestling nations from Europe and central Asia will also hold their respective trials shortly. In India we also follow this system and Sushil is ready to fight whenever the federation fixes a date,” he added.
Former chief national coach Vinod Kumar backed Satpal’s statement, adding that the WFI will arrange a trial at an appropriate time.
“The exact date has not yet been decided. The federation will form a committee composed of former coaches and officials whoi will then decide an appropriate date,” Kumar told IANS.
Sports minister Sarbananda Sonowal, meanwhile, said the ministry will abide by the WFI’s decision on the issue.
“It is the federation’s criteria that has to be followed. We can’t interfere. They are autonomous body. It is the responsibility of the federation,” Sonowal told the media at a function here on Thursday.
IOA joint secretary Rakesh Gupta said even if Sushil’s name was not in the probables list sent by the WFI, his name can still be added later.
“See, on Wednesday, Babita and Ravinder Khatri qualified. There names were not there in the list but that does not mean they will not go. If someone qualifies after one month, will that athlete not go,” said Gupta, who is India’s Chef de Mission for the Rio Olympics. (IANS)