New Delhi : Fighting for an Olympic ticket on the unfamiliar legal turf, Sushil Kumar’s glorious wrestling career may meet an unceremonious end when the Delhi High Court pronounces its verdict today on who gets to board the flight to Rio between him and Narsingh Yadav.
An unfavourable verdict for Sushil may not be the end on the legal front as he can still challenge the ruling in the Supreme Court. But it could well signal the end of the road for perhaps the greatest Indian Olympian, who won two back-to-back medals.
With less than two months left for the Olympics, starting August 5, future look bleak for the unassuming grappler from Haryana whose injuries played a part in the entire sequence of events leading upto today.
The Delhi High Court, in its last hearing on Thursday, gave clear indications that it was likely to give a judgement in favour of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) in the tiff over selection trials in the men’s 74kg freestyle category.
The Delhi High court had observed that it did not find “any statutory mandate” to hold trials before the Olympics.
“Problem is that the sports code is nowhere prescribing that trial is mandatory. It has given flexibility and autonomy to the organisation to decide (mode of selection). I do not find the statutory mandate which you are trying to read into it,” Justice Manmohan had said during the final hearing.
Narsingh had secured the Olympic quota place for India last year at the World Championship in Las Vegas after winning a bronze medal.
Since then the Maharashtra grappler has been staking his claim for the berth and the WFI had also been steadfast in its stand to send Narsingh to Rio since he had grabbed the quota.
Going by norms in WFI guidelines, a quota belongs to the country and not to an individual wrestler, and former world champion Sushil pointed out that there should be a trial in 74kg category to decide who would go to Rio.
The 33-year-old, who had won a bronze medal in 2008 Beijing Olympics and followed it up with a silver in 2012 London Games, had moved the court seeking directions to WFI to hold selection trials.
Sushil had won both his Olympic medals in 66kg category but had to move up to 74kg after the International Wrestling body (FILA) rejigged the weight divisions post the London Games.
Sushil’s climbing up to the 74kg weight category brought him in direct competition with Narsingh, who had represented India in this category in earlier Olympics.
After jumping up the division, Sushil had fought in just a couple of international tournaments. In fact, what has gone against Sushil is that he had last fought in 2014 Commonwealth Games at Glasgow, where he had won a gold medal. Since then he has not participated in any major event owing to injuries.
Before the World Championship last year, WFI had conducted trials but Sushil opted out of that as well as he sustained a shoulder injury at that time.
He also did not take part in the inaugural Pro Wrestling League, once again citing injury, in December last year.
Relay team in hunt for Rio qualification
Slovakia: The Indian women 4x400m relay quartet of Jauna Murmu, Ashwini Akkunji, Anilda Thomas and M R Poovamma enhanced its Rio Olympic Games qualification chances by winning a gold medal at the PTS athletics Grand Prix with an impressive timing of 3:31.39.
After this performance, the national relay team can qualify for the Olympic Games in two ways. The Top-8 finalists in last year’s IAAF World Relays in Nassau, Bahamas, have an automatic entry.
The remaining eight slots (9 to 16) shall be filled by taking into account the best two performances achieved.
India’s national team’s best mark in 2015 (3:29.08) came from Jisna Mathew, Tintu Luka, Debasree Majumdar and Poovamma during the World Championships at Beijing.
Taking into account yesterday’s mark (3:31.39), the Indian team is currently ranked 15th in the unique World relay rankings prepared specially for the purpose of Rio Olympics with an average time of 3:30.24.
The Russian Federation, currently suspended by the IAAF following wide-spread doping scandal, may come back and with a better average of 3:24.29 may push India down one place.
Germany, in 16th place, went out of the Top-16 following Indian entry last night. However with large number of opportunities available to the German team both at home and in neighbouring countries, they too have chances of coming back strongly in the coming weeks.
The Indian team now needs to compete regularly in Europe and improve performances to remain in the top-16 as only 16 qualified teams are allowed to compete in Rio in each relay event. PTI