Dear Sushil Kumar, Narsingh Yadav Will Earn Respect Despite HurdlesAfter Narsingh Yadav was cleared by NADA of the doping charges and it paved his way for him to participate in the Rio Olympics in the 74 kg division of wrestling, Sushil Yadav, who fought a bitter battle with him over the right to represent India at the event, tweeted:
By Sunil Garodia
Very happy news. My support was there in the past, is there today and will be there always. Go win for me and the country.
Compare this reaction to what he said when the news of Yadav failing the dope test broke. Sushil had then tweeted: Respect should be earned, not demanded. Jai Hind.
From the very beginning of this ugly episode in Indian wrestling, it is Sushil Kumar who has been in the wrong. He tried to arm-twist the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) into ignoring qualification norms and sending him to Rio in the 74 kg division even though it was not his category in the past and he had graduated to it only because the IOC had discontinued the 66 kg division (in which Sushil had won his past Olympic medals) as an Olympic event. Before that, he had flopped in the 60 kg division at the 2004 Athens Olympics, coming in 14th.
When that did not work, Sushil threw in everything he had into the fight outside the ring. He challenged Narsingh Yadav to a one-to-one fight to decide who was better. Being an experienced wrestler, Sushil should have known the rules. If there was a qualifying guideline and if a wrestler had achieved that, there was nothing much anyone could do after that. Narsingh Yadav had qualified for Rio by winning bronze in the 74 kg division at the World Wrestling Championship at Las Vegas. Sushils challenge to him for a direct fight had no meaning.
Simultaneously, Sushil launched a vitriolic social media campaign and filed a law suit to stake his claim. As an elder statesman of Indian wrestling (he is there since 1998, when he won his first gold at the World Cadet Games), the much decorated Sushil should have understood that he had lost out mainly because he was laid down with injuries throughout 2015 and had missed all the qualifying events. He should have been magnanimous enough to wish luck to Narsingh, teach him a trick or two and bless him for the event.
By indulging in obnoxious tactics, Sushil Kumar has harmed his reputation. Kumar realized that at his age and level of fitness, this was his last chance to represent India at the Olympics. Then, there must have been commercial compulsions. Those lucrative endorsement contacts last only till the time one is in the limelight. Sushil must be thinking that youngsters like Narsingh will push him to the sidelines and his income will dwindle. But that happens to all sports persons once their sporting careers are all but over. Very few retain the charisma to attract endorsement contacts after leaving the arena. Sushil Kumar has had his time in the limelight, with gold medals, Arjuna award, Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award and a Padam Shri to boot. If he was injured and if someone else has taken his place, he should be gracious enough to accept it and wait for the next event to stake his claim, if he still has it in him what it takes to represent India at the highest level. If not, instead of harming his reputation further, he should fight in Pro-Wrestling leagues or take up coaching and add a Dronacharya award to the above list, though one doubts if he will be in the good books of WFI after all the ruckus he created.