CHENNAI: Sports Authority of India gave clearance to 30 wrestlers to represent the country at the U-23 World Championships in Belgrade, Serbia. A day after The New Indian Express reported that the Wrestling Federation of India was not amused that the SAI was not ready to bear the expenses of the entire team of 30, SAI said it cleared the entire team.
However, it will bear the cost of only 24, while the other six would be on no-cost-to-the-government. WFI president on Monday had threatened that it would not send the team if all members were not cleared.
However, on Tuesday when the SAI announced that 24 out of 30 would go on government expenses, WFI president Brij Bhushan Singh Sharan sounded agitated as he felt this decision would set a wrong precedent.
The Worlds is scheduled from November 1 to 7 and despite the stalemate, the WFI said that the team will compete in the tournament.
The WFI had sent a list comprising 45 members also including nine coaches, three physiotherapists and as many referees. Interestingly, the SAI has also left out three coaches named in the list and would be on no-cost to the government.
"On what basis the SAI cleared only 24 wrestlers is beyond my understanding. Such treatment to a discipline that has consistently won medals for the country at the international level including the Olympics is unwarranted," the WFI president told The New Indian Express.
Meanwhile, the SAI in its statement pointed out that the decision to clear 24 wrestlers on government cost was based on an assessment of their performance in the domestic and international events in the last three years. It also suggested the WFI to include coaches from the academies producing a larger number of members of the contingent.
Speaking on his disagreement, Singh stated, "All wrestlers named in the list are gold medallists of the nationals held in September. In the past few months, our cadet, junior and senior wrestlers had won numerous medals for the country. Wrestling is probably the only discipline in the country which has conducted nationals even during the pandemic."
"I had already expressed my displeasure to the sports minister by writing a letter to him. I have also spoken to the sports secretary and tried to contact SAI DG but he remained incommunicado. I am still in talks with authorities concerned and hope they clear the whole contingent on government cost," he added.
The SAI in the statement also noted that 30 wrestlers proposed for the event had mostly trained in their own academies or akharas since there has been no long-term training plan either in national camps or in dedicated academies. SAI sources too questioned a few coaches recommended for the tour by the WFI.
Of the nine coaches that WFI recommended, it is learnt only two have been regularly training the Greco Roman wrestlers. Rest seven have not trained any of the athletes.
The federation has spoken to its sponsors who would bear the cost of the remaining members of the contingent. The wrestlers will leave in batches with Greco-Roman wrestlers flying out on October 30 followed by women and men's freestyle wrestlers on November 1 and 3 respectively.