Setback for Sushil Kumar; HC rejects Rio berth plea

RSTV Bureau
File photo of Indian wrestler Sushil Kumar. Photo: AP/PTI

File photo of Indian wrestler Sushil Kumar.
Photo: AP/PTI

Wrestler and Olympic medallist Sushil Kumar suffered a big setback after the Delhi High Court dismissed his plea for a selection trial for Rio games.

Kumar had moved the court contesting Narsingh Yadav’s entry into the Rio games in the 74 kg freestyle category.

The court observed Kumar’s plea may “jeopardise” the chances of selected candidate Narsingh Pancham Yadav and the country would be the “loser”.

Justice Manmohan acknowledged Sushil’s feats in the international arena and termed him a “legendary wrestler” in 66 kg weight category but did not allow him to have a chance to compete for the Olympic berth in the 74 kg category.

The court said that Sushil’s petition seeking a direction to the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) to hold a selection trial to decide who will represent India in 74 kg freestyle category at the Rio Olympics was “untenable in law as well as contrary to facts”.

“In international arena of sports, medals are won not only by ‘brawn’ but also by ‘brain’. The last minute challenge to selection can disturb the mental preparation of the selected….Consequently, a sportsperson innocently asking for ‘just a trial’ may be jeopardising the chances of the selected candidate to win, having disastrous consequences for national interest. In the duel asked for, the country will be the loser,” the court said.

In its 37-page judgement, the court observed that the WFI adopted a “reasonable, transparent and fair procedure” in selecting Yadav as India’s representative to Rio Olympics in the 74 kg category.

“The system suggested by the petitioner (Sushil) of having trials after the qualification event cannot be accepted as the sole method for selection as it implies that the country would not send its best athlete to secure a place for itself in Olympics,” it said.

The court termed as “unfortunate” that 66 kg category was abolished in January 2014 and Sushil was forced to play in 74 kg weight category but noted that Sushil has not won any major national or international tournament since September 2014.

It also said WFI had conducted a fair selection trial prior to World Wrestling Championship 2015, the qualification event, to ensure that the best athlete represents India so that there was a chance to secure a berth in the Olympics.

(With inputs from PTI)