Narsingh Yadav's World Championships bronze medal has assured his participation in 2016 Olympics instead of double Olympic medallist Sushil Kumar, says India's assistant wrestling coach
Ever since Narsingh Yadav earned an Olympic quota in the 74-kg category winning bronze at the recent World Wrestling Championships in Las Vegas, speculation has been rife about who will get to eventually represent India at the Rio Games next year — Narsingh or double Olympic medallist Sushil Kumar.
Also Read: Worlds Wrestling: After Vegas bronze, Narsingh Yadav eyes Rio
Narsingh Yadav (standing, in turban) and India assistant coach Jagmal Singh (standing, right) arrive at the Sports Authority of India's Kandivli campus yesterday. Pics/Suresh KK
Reports suggest the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) could either hold trials or take recent form into account to choose between the two decorated wrestlers since only one grappler from a country can participate per category.
However, the Indian national team's assistant coach Jagmal Singh has said that there is no question of trials. "There will be no trials for the Olympic berth, Narsingh will definitely go to the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in 2016. No can stop him. Till today, no one from India has ever qualified for the Olympics by winning a medal at the World Championships," said Jagmal, who is also Narsingh's coach at the Sports Authority of India's (SAI) Kandivli campus.
Meanwhile, Narsingh, who was given a rousing reception at SAI's Kandivli center yesterday by a 100-odd trainees at the institute, was also bullish about his chances of travelling to Rio. "Until now, in India, whoever gets a quota place (in 74 kg) goes to the Olympics. For London 2012, I earned the berth and I was sent. Sushil earned a spot in the 66-kg category and he was sent too," said Narsingh, who revealed that Sushil had called to congratulate him right after his medal in Las Vegas.
Narsingh Yadav shows off his bronze medal at a function at SAI's Kandivli campus yesterday
While Narsingh has earned the quota spot, India's only berth in wrestling so far, Sushil's credentials cannot be dismissed. The 32-year-old has won two golds in the 66-kg event — bronze at Beijing Olympics and silver at London. Ever since he moved up to the 74-kg weight-class, Sushil has seldom participated in events citing injury. However, he did win the gold medal at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games last year.
According to the rules, the wrestler who earns the quota place is not entitled to go to the Olympics. The final decision rests with the country's wrestling federation. While repeated calls to WFI president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh went unanswered, chief national coach Kuldeep Malik said that Narsingh was not yet assured of a spot. "There is still one year left for the Rio Olympics. No one's spot is confirmed. The federation will finally decide," Malik said. However, Jagmal and Narsingh have already started dreaming about Rio.
"I made a few mistakes in Las Vegas which I will work on eliminating from my game in time for Rio. I can win a medal at Rio," said the 26-year-old who is unlikely to participate in other events that serve as Olympic qualifiers and would instead focus on his preparations for the Games by participating in invitational tournaments. Jagmal is keen to iron out Narsingh's weaknesses in the months to come.
"I noticed at the World Championships that Narsingh was too defensive in the dying moments of the bout. He kept running back towards the red zone (passivity zone). We have a year to go for Rio, we will work on these aspects. The federation may send Narsingh to Russia or the USA for training before the Games," added Jagmal, claiming that Sushil's move up to the 74-kg category has motivated Narsingh even more.
"When there's a strong competitor in your event, the training gets harder by default. Narsingh started training harder after Sushil moved up because he was wary of facing him in the trials (for the World Championships). He has done a lot of hard work in the last few months, because the competition in his weight-class had become stronger," Jagmal said.