At the conclusion of 2015 Wrestling World Championships in Las Vegas, USA on September 12, 2015, 108 men and women wrestlers earned their places for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. India had a poor performance at the World’s with just one quota place earned. Narsingh Pancham Yadav won the freestyle bronze in the 74 Kg category but as per Olympic rules, the berth belongs to the country and not the wrestler, who won. Yadav’s victory has created a tricky situation for the Indian Wrestling Federation because celebrated wrestler Sushil Kumar also falls in the same 74 Kg category. Therefore, it is not immediately clear as to which wrestler will be sent to Rio. Sushil Kumar has been out of action for almost the last two years and he didn’t go to Las Vegas. However, Yadav’s feat can still benefit Sushil since India earned the berth. The indubitable significance of Yadav’s victory is doing the rounds in the media as the two-time Olympic medal winner Sushil Kumar has suddenly hogged the limelight despite doing a thing. The officials of the Indian Wrestling Federation are keeping an eerie silence and Yadav’s participation in the 2016 Rio Olympics has suddenly become uncertain despite his marvelous show at Las Vegas.
Narsingh Yadav was the lone Indian to qualify for 2016 Rio Olympic Games out of 108 other men and women wrestlers, who took part in the just concluded Wrestling World Championships at Las Vegas. Yadav put up consistently good show on his way to winning the bronze medal in the 74 Kg freestyle bout. His rivals in the competition included; Israel’s Hanoc Rachamin, whom he beat at 14-2; Turkey’s Soner Demirtas against whom Yadav won narrowly at 4-3 and completely outplayed Cuban wrestler Livan Lopez Azcuy 16-5. In the semifinal, Yadav found a tough customer in Mongolia’s Unurbat Purevjav and lost. But Yadav still had a bronze medal chance and he made good his bout against Frenchman Zelimkhan Khadjiev by winning at 12-8. Yadav, who is based in Mumbai, has earlier won bronze medals in the 2014 Asian Games and 2015 Asian Championships. With his creditable performance, Yadav became the first man in India’s wrestling history to qualify for Olympics with a medal win in the World Championships. Other than Yadav, India were represented by Amit Kumar in 57 Kg, Arun Kumar in 70 Kg and Sumit in 125 Kg. But none of these wrestlers could progress beyond the quarterfinal round.
Unfortunately, Narsingh Yadav’s victory was deemed as an Olympic quota for India and as per the Olympic qualification norms, it will be up to the Indian Wrestling Federation to decide which 74 Kg category wrestler takes the flight to Rio next year. The opinions about sending Sushil Kumar to Rio instead of Narsingh Yadav have acquired a controversial edge. Yadav’s coach Jagmal Singh is convinced that since his ward has earned the place with creditable performance, there is no question of any other wrestler replacing him in next year’s Rio Games. While Jagmal is already chalking out plans for Yadav’s training in US or Russia, Sushil Kumar’s coach Satpal Singh has claimed that the Indian Wrestling Federation should organize a final qualification match between Yadav and Sushil. Satpal feels that despite being sidelined by a shoulder injury for the better part of the year, Sushil is a better medal hope than Yadav. However the ball now is in IWF’s court and they have to come out with some decision soon.