Sushil Kumar, an Indian freestyle wrestler, has won the 2010 world title, a silver medal at the 2012 London Olympics and a bronze medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, making him the only Indian to win two individual Olympic medals. He made our country proud on various international platforms, and was vying to participate in the Rio Olympics in the 74 kg berth in wrestling.
The need for him to participate was so much that he ensued a legal action against the decision and insisted on his presence at the yet-to-happen Rio Olympics. However, in the end, it was Narsingh Yadav who won the spot and is now part of the largest ever Indian Olympic contingent.
Narsingh earned India a quota berth for the Rio Olympics, winning bronze in the World Championships in Las Vegas in September’2015, but the Wrestling Federation of India had a tough choice to make, with multiple Olympic medalist Sushil also keen to represent the nation.
Despite Sushil approaching the courts to try and force WFI to conduct a trial, the federation decided to hand Narsingh the ticket to Rio. The WFI was right in doing so, considering the wrestler had earned that place via his spectacular performance in the World Championships, from which Sushil had pulled out due to a shoulder injury. Narsingh is an experienced wrestler in the 74 kg event. The 26-year-old has brought laurels to India, winning gold in 2010 Commonwealth Games, bronze in the Asian Games (2014) and Asian Championships (2015).
The struggle for Narsingh began even before he could participate in the event. Sushil Kumar’s the bid to ask for trial divided the wrestling fraternity into groups adding fuel to a raging fire.
The pressure on Narsingh is almost palpable. The fight from India to Rio hasn’t been easy for him – tinted with controversies and greater claim put forth by competitors who have, twice, bought glory to the country. If Narsingh fails to achieve the desired results, he, along with WFI, may face severe criticism, as Sushil had the much-needed experience in the Olympics, winning medals in 2008 (bronze) and 2012 (silver).
He’s had a good time in the last couple of years, finishing on the podium in every major competition which should give him the confidence needed heading into the games. Hailed by many as the future of Indian wrestling, he will be keen to prove a point with his performance at Rio.
However, much is to be seen and expected out of this wrestler, who has supplanted out the favorite wrestler and is carrying the pride of the country on his impressive shoulders.