New Delhi: Sushil Kumar's fight for an Olympic berth suffered another blow today with the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) strongly hinting that they would prefer Narsingh Yadav for the Rio Games given his "consistent performances" over the last year.
Following the Delhi High Court directive, a special WFI committee, formed on the instruction of the court, held a meeting with the two-time Olympic medallist today, to sort out as to who between Sushil and Narsingh would represent India in the men's 74kg freestyle category at the mega-event in August.
"Sushil has put forward his views before the committee and has maintained what he has been saying since the very beginning that he should get a chance to undergo a trial," WFI president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh told reporters here.
"We have told him that 'you have put Indian wrestling at a pedestal and we cannot ignore your contribution and we all respect you'. But on the other hand, there is another wrestler who has brought the Olympic quota and also has been giving consistent performances. So, can we be unfair to him also?," Brij Bhushan added.
Asked what if the High Court, during its next hearing on May 27, instructs the Federation to take a final call, Brij Bhushan said, "The Federation has taken its decision."
The meeting chaired by the WFI president included senior vice president ID Nanavati, secretary general and the chief coach, besides Sushil. Sushil's mentor and father-in-law Satpal was also present in the meeting.
"Since it was a friendly meeting, we also allowed Satpal to be a part of it. We heard Sushil and Satpal's point of view and we also put forward WFI's dilemma. We said that Federation is not just for one wrestler or one category. I asked Sushil what he would have done had he been in my place with one wrestler having immense contribution in the past and another with consistent performances," said Brij Bhushan.
Asked if WFI got convinced by Sushil's opinion, the president said: "Convince hone ka koi sawal hi nahin uthta hai (there is no question of getting convinced).
"Whatever is our view point on the matter, we will submit it to the court in our reply."
On why there has been a communication gap between Sushil and WFI after Narsingh had qualified almost eight months back in last September, Brij Bhushan said, "I have never told Sushil or for that matter any other perosn that WFI will hold the trials. Whenever I have been asked by the media if trials would be conducted, I had always said that if I talk about the issue now it would hamper the training of the wrestlers and that's why I never spoke about it. I said when the time will come to take a decision, I would decide on the matter."
The WFI president said if the Court orders us to conduct a trial, this matter would not stop there.
"If the court decides that we should hold the trial, the matter would not stop there. Then it will again go to the Supreme Court.
"But if court instructs WFI to conduct a trial and if the higher court also says it, then we will have to listen to the court," he said.
Brij Bhushan said Sushil would not be allowed to be in the national camp until the next hearing.
Sushil, meanwhile, said that he has put forward his stand that there should be a trial.
"I have always wished Narsingh well. He is my collegue and he has also done well for the country. But now what the present situation is in 74kg, the decision can only be taken after conducting the trial," said the 32-year-old.
Asked if he was disappointed with the WFI's stance, Sushil kept up a brave front.
"No. They have always supported me. Sent me for training in Georgia. I have always got exposures via the Federation and they have always stood by me. My chief has also always stood by me," he said.
Sushil had moved court as his last resort having already taken the matter to the doorsteps of Prime Minister's Office.
He had also appealed to the Sports Ministry, IOA, WFI and fans to give him a chance to undergo a trial for the Rio Games, as according to the rules, quota belongs to the country and not to a particular wrestler.
The former World champion had argued that the government has spent a substantial amount of money on his training and even the federation has been asking him to keep practising.
Narsingh, meanwhile, has been staking his claim to represent India at the Olympics since last year when he secured a quota place at the World Championship in Las Vegas after winning a bronze in 74kg. Sushil, who missed the event due to a shoulder injury, has been demanding a trial.