Stardom wrecks talent
Indian wrestler Parveen Rana on Friday came down heavily on the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI), slamming their idea of letting top grapplers skip the Asian Games trials and be part of the main squad.
The WFI has received requests from the four wrestlers namely Sushil Kumar, Bajrang Punia, Sakshi Malik and Vinesh Phogat to not conduct trials in their respective weight categories.
Speaking to Mail Today, WFI president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh said the federation is planning to let them prepare on their own and skip the trials. However, he also made it clear that the final decision will be taken after consulting sports minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore.
"We will discuss with the coaches and other concerned authorities before deciding anything. Yes, there is a chance that no trials will take place in their respective categories," Singh said. "These wrestlers have proved their credentials time and again and this decision will be taken considering the fact that they face no competition from others in their weight categories."
But it will be easier said than done for the WFI to let these wrestlers skip the trials because of a 2014 Delhi High Court directive, which ordered sporting federations to conduct trials before any major tournaments.
Interestingly, it was two-time Olympic medallist Sushil, who took the WFI to court after the federation had decided not to hold a trials in the 74kg freestyle category in the run-up to the 2016 Olympics. In 2014, Amit Dhankar, who was a contender against London Olympics bronze medallist Yogeshwar Dutt in the 65kg division, went to court after WFI chose not hold trials to select the team for the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
Meanwhile, Rana, Sushil's competitor in 74kg category, told Mail Today that the federation can't kill a junior wrestler's chance. Rana had earlier lodged an FIR against double Olympics medallist Sushil and five others following a fracas during the CWG trials here in January.
"I am shocked with the news of no trials before Asian Games. This is really disturbing. How can the federation allow such requests? Stardom is actually killing our chances. The federation seems to be under some pressure. These are the politics that ruined many talents. I was sent for the tough competition (Asian Championship) and for easy events (CWG) they picked Sushil. He said he was injured during that Championship but recovered well before the Gold Coast event. He also knew that winning in Asian Championship is not an easy thing. In foreign countries, before every event there are trials. But in our nation, stardom matters a lot.
"I remember, it was Sushil who went to court after he didn't get a chance for Rio Olympics. And now he is requesting that there should be no trials. They (WFI) should tell us that we should stop playing and start focusing on our jobs if they can't give us a fair chance. I met WFI officials today and I hope they will consider my request for the trails," Rana added.
The WFI will hold the trials for the men's categories freestyle and Greco-Roman on June 10 at the Sports Authority of India centre at Sonepat, where a training camp for both the categories is going on. Similarly, the training camp for women wrestlers is being held at SAI, Lucknow, and the trials are expected to be held there on June 17.