Wrestling

Three walkovers to gold: Why Sushil Kumar’s Nationals win was disrespectful to wrestling

The 34-year-old received a walkover from quarter-finals onward with no wrestler willing to fight against him.

Two-time Olympic medallist Sushil Kumar was crowned the new national champion in the 74-kg category on Friday. It would have been termed as a great comeback for a man who was out of action of three years and wanted to prove a point to those who had written him off after his shoulder injury and forced him to sit out of the Rio Olympics by denying him a trial.

But what unfolded at the Senior National Wrestling Championship at Abhay Prashal Stadium in Indore has meant that Sushil is yet to prove that he is India’s best wrestler in the weight category. The manner in which he became the national champion can be termed more a political victory rather than a statement on the mat.

Sushil had qualified to represent his employers, Railways Sports Promotion Board, for the Nationals without a single bout after one of his opponents did not even turn up for the trials while the other gave him a walkover without fighting.

Procession of walkovers

While what transpired at the trials was expected, no one would have expected the procession of walkovers to continue at the Nationals. The 34-year-old needed less that a minute to win his first bout against Mizoram’s Lalmalsawma and took a minute and 45 seconds to stave off Mukul Mishra of Jharkhand in the second round.

Despite the easy wins, it was clear that the champion wrestler was rusty and that would have raised the hopes of the near capacity crowd of watching a few high quality bouts. Instead, Haryana wrestler Parveen simply touched Sushil’s feet and conceded the quarter-final.

If anyone thought that Parveen’s act was going to be an aberration, they were soon proved wrong as Sachin Rathi of Uttar Pradesh followed the same template in the semi-finals. Then, Sushil’s Railway teammate Praveen Rana, who had skipped the trial completely, once again gave him a walkover in the gold-medal round citing a thigh injury.

Given the one-day format of wrestling competition, cases of walkovers are pretty frequent when the grapplers are from the same team and the one more suited to go further in the competition is allowed to conserve their energy for the later bouts.

But in Indore, neither Parveen nor Rathi were competing for the same team as Sushil and his Railways teammate Rana had no such compulsion since they were contesting in the final. It is worth noting here that Rana, who was sent to represent India in the Rio Olympics after Narsingh Yadav failed the dope test, is a product of Sushil’s alma-mater, the Chhatrasal Stadium akhada, and only recently shifted his training base to Rohtak.

As things stand now, Sushil hasn’t proved himself in the 74-kg category in India after moving up from the 66-kg category in which he won the silver at 2012 London Olympics. He was sent to the 2014 Commonwealth Games without facing a trial on the basis of his pedigree and hasn’t competed since then.

Point to prove

Narsingh Yadav went on to win India’s quota for the 2016 Rio Olympics by bagging a bronze medal in the World Championship. Sushil did move the Delhi High Court seeking a trial against the Mumbai grappler to decide India’s entry but was denied the chance.

It’s a different story that Yadav himself was later banned for four years for a doping offence and Rana replaced him in the squad.

This is probably why Sushil was keen to prove a point at the Nationals and set the record straight as to his ability to dominate the 74-kg category in India. And with Yadav sitting on the podium, it was probably the best place for the country’s most decorated wrestler to showcase his dominance.

Sushil insisted that he came to Indore to fight and win, and not bag the National title in this manner. While the three wrestlers spoke about “respect” for the double Olympic champion for not contesting again him, they actually ended up showing disrespect to the sport and also to the man who had forged a legacy of his own with his performances on the mat.

Mizoram’s Lalmalsawma put things in the right perspective. “I don’t think it is right,” he was quoted as saying by espn.in. “You should not come to a tournament if you don’t want to wrestle. It isn’t as if I don’t respect him. I respect him so much. But that is the reason I had to wrestle him.”

The Wrestling Federation of India would do well to take appropriate action against them and ensure that such farce has little place in the sport hereafter.

We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

A phone so stunning that it deserves its own photoshoot

Presenting the Moto X4, crafted to perfection.

Precision-crafted glass and metal design, an anodised aluminium frame, easy to hold and featuring beautiful contours, the Moto X4 is crafted to perfection indeed.

With the distinctive placement of the rear cameras, this phone makes a great subject for a photographic series.

Gaurav Sawn Photography
Gaurav Sawn Photography

The light reveals the fluidity of its body; curves that fit perfectly in the contours of a palm.

Gaurav Sawn Photography
Gaurav Sawn Photography

Reclining on a bed of satin, the glass-encased phone blends into the folds of the luxurious fabric.

The slimness, seamlessness and solidity of the phone make for a great profile shot.

A stunning design which is IP68 rated water-resistant too, it is as beautiful as it is strong.

We partnered with photographer Gaurav Sawn to create this series. Says Gaurav, “The glass sandwich design looks extremely good and the reflections on the back panel make the phone stand out. This is a phone that is best used without a case. The curved corners were also very comfortable to hold. All in all, really enjoyed shooting this phone!”

While this phone is elegant and crafted to perfection, it is also extremely tough, being protected from scratches with Corning® Gorilla® Glass that stretches all the way around.

You don’t need to sacrifice of performance either. It’s packed with a 2.2 GHz octa-core Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 630 processor and comes with a TurboPower™ Charger which means hours of power in minutes!

For the music lover, this phone is a boon. With simultaneous connectivity of up to four Bluetooth® audio devices at the same time, you can build your own stereo system without worrying about cables.

The dual rear cameras – a 12MP that lets you focus faster and get great results even on dark, cloudy days, and an 8 MP camera, with wide angle lens makes your most ambitious photos look all the more impressive.

To get your hands on the Moto X4, and experience perfection, click here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Motorola and not by the Scroll editorial team.