New Delhi: Sports Minister Sarbananda Sonowal on Friday reiterated that he will not interfere in the controversy surrounding double Olympic medallist Sushil Kumar’s insistence for a trial to secure a berth in the Indian wrestling squad for the upcoming Rio Olympics. Sushil took bronze in the 2008 Beijing Olympics and then silver in London in 2012 in the 66kg division, 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 Yadav, who was the top Indian wrestler in that category till then. Sushil’s worries increased when Narsingh won the Rio Olympic quota place in the 74kg category at the World Championships, which the former missed out following a shoulder injury.
With Narsingh almost a certainty for Rio, Sushil is now measuring all options, including meeting Sonowal to pursue him to intervene in the matter. Sonowal, however, said his ministry will in “no way” intervene in the workings of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) and the controversy has to be resolved by the national federation.
“As far as the ministry is concerned, there is no chance we can interfere on the issue. WFI is an autonomous body and it is up to them who they feel should represent the country in the Olympics,” Sonowal said. “No, till now I haven’t received any communication from Sushil but the ministry’s stance remains the same. There will be no interference. We all want the best to represent the country,” he added.
The WFI has so far not clarified on the issue, leaving room for speculation and controversy. 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 Narsingh to decide India’s representative for the men’s 74kg freestyle category.