New Delhi: Delhi High Court on Wednesday observed that grappler Narsingh Pancham Yadav was not a “push over” to represent India in Rio 2016 and questioned compatriot Sushil Kumar for finding fault in the policy which had enabled him in the past to make it to the Olympics thrice.
“This is the policy (of WFI) which have been in place since long and now you (Sushil) are saying that this policy is wrong,” Justice Manmohan asked Sushil’s counsel.
“In 2004, 2008 and 2012, you (Sushil) had gone for three Olympics by following the same policy. Their (WFI) procedure has been consistent,” the court said.
Senior advocate Amit Sibal, who appeared for Sushil, told the court that Sports Code has to be followed by Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) and it prescribes selection trial for international event like the Olympics.
“The Sports Code has to be followed. Nobody had come to the court against my selection ever. The WFI has the exclusive monopoly in wrestling in India,” he said.
The court, however, said, “He (Yadav) had qualified for the world wrestling championship and had won a medal. He is a champion. He is not a push over. He has proved his mettle in an international event.”
To this, Sibal contended that he was not disputing the fact that Yadav had secured a berth for India in the Olympics by winning a medal in the world wrestling championship but selection trial has to be conducted. Thereafter, the court asked Sibal, “The fact that you (Sushil) are one of the best in the world is not disputed but after August 2014, you have not been active. Have you won any tournament after August 2014?”
Sibal responded to court’s query, saying Sushil was injured at the time of trial for the world championship 2015 and after recovering from the injury, he was undergoing training under international and Indian coaches.
The court was hearing the arguments, which would continue on Thursday, on a petition filed by two time Olympic medallist Sushil seeking a direction to WFI to conduct a selection trial to decide who will represent India in the men’s 74kg freestyle category at the Rio Games.
During the hearing, Sibal said, “They (WFI) have not asked me to participate in any event. It is not the case that I have refused to participate in any event. I have given all the medical certificates for my injury. Financial assistance was given to him (Sushil) under the target Olympic podium scheme.”
He further said that WFI should conduct selection trial for Olympics as it was required under the Sports Code. “Not having a trial is direct violation of the Sports Code. No written policy of WFI is there for selecting athletes from international events like Olympics. There is no policy on the basis of which the WFI can say that earning a quota at the world championship gives you a berth for Olympics,” he said.
When Sibal stressed that there was no written policy, the court asked, “You (Sushil) have been selected by WFI so many times. Was it through the same process that you were selected earlier?” To this, Sibal said Sushil was selected in a fair manner by WFI and the best athelete has to be send for international events.
He referred to the procedure followed by other countries, including USA, Russia and Canada, and said that there was no country in the world which relies on performance in the world wrestling championship. He said even other sports associations in India conducts selection trial for the Olympics.
“Internal selection trial closer to the main event is important to access the current form of the athlete. You do not want champion but the best wrestlers,” he said, adding,
“You want to have a person in the Olympics who is in form. How can WFI say that they do not know what is happening abroad. They do not even see what the other associations in the country are doing,” he said and added that other countries had conducted trial for Olympics in the month of April-May.
During the earlier hearing, the high court had observed that Sushil and Yadav should not be used as “pawns” in the “politics” of the wrestling federation. WFI had earlier told the court that Yadav was a better bet than Sushil in the 74 kg freestyle category at the Rio 2016.
Yadav’s counsel had told the court that the athlete who secures a quota, represents the country in the Olympics.
Sushil had approached the high court after his name did not figure in India’s Rio preparatory camp.