Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, the former president of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI), has lashed out at star wrestler Bajrang Punia for not winning the gold medal in the 65kg weight category at the ongoing Asian Games 2023 in China.
Punia lost the bronze medal bout against Japan’s Kaiki Yamaguchi despite being one of the pre-tournament favourites to clinch the gold medal at the Games.
Punia had earlier been defeated by former world champion and reigning Asian champion Rahman Amouzadkhalili of Iran in the semi-finals. He then bowed out after losing to Kaiki.
Punia had not taken part in the trials before the Asian Games and was given a direct entry into the Asian Games in Hangzhou despite his lack of preparation.
He was busy protesting against Singh, who is facing allegations of sexual harassment by several Indian female wrestlers during his tenure as the WFI chief.
BBSS calls out Bajrang Punia over trials exhempt
"What do I say about this (Bajrang Punia's loss). Every kid and fan in India is talking about it right now on social media. It is unfortunate, we should have won gold in the 65kg category.
"Wrestling has become huge in India because the government and states are spending a lot of money on it. No other country offers this much money and respect to their wrestlers as India does. That is why you see 2-3 star wrestlers from India in every weight category.
"As far as Bajrang Punia is concerned, if he had been sent to the Games after trials then India would have won the gold medal. If Bajrang had given the trials then he would have definitely won the gold, or if any other wrestler had gone after the trials then also we would have won the gold medal.
"Because it is a competition. The selection criteria should not be based on pity or emotions. I request the WFI to send the Indian team after selecting wrestlers from the trials. The best should go," Singh told reporters on Saturday.
Singh says all bronze medals should have been gold
He also went congratulated the wrestlers who have won bronze at the Asian Games but also said that even those medals should have been gold.
"I congratulate the players because our overall performance has been good... We have won 5 medals in wrestling and all of them are bronze. One of our players is going to be in the finals which means that a silver is assured... But I think that these bronze medals should have been gold... Indian wrestling has been disturbed for the last 10 months... In winning these medals, the biggest contribution is of the parents, players and the dream with which the federation was working," Singh said.