Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh said he wants to set the example of wrestler Vinesh Phogat, who has to show cause for his alleged refusal to be with the Indian team at the Tokyo Olympics. He did not wear the official team uniform for his matches.
Singh sought a bigger role in the planning of the Paris Olympics, accusing private bodies like Olympic Gold Quest and JSW Sports of sidelining the federation, along with the target Olympic podium plan. Excerpts from an interview:
Has there been any further progress on this case related to vinesh?
We have sent it to our disciplinary committee, which will call Vinesh, Sonam and Divya Kakran. It’s easy to say ‘I made a mistake’. But why did you make that mistake and why? These are senior wrestlers Vinesh replied through his lawyer And said that she did not stay with the Indian team for the betterment of other wrestlers so that they do not come in contact with the virus. Well, maybe it was for the good of others. But then why didn’t she wear the dress? Because of that mistake, he needs to know what I had to suffer, what happened to me.
what happened to you?
After the Deepak Punia incident, when his coach thrashed an official, I had to appear before a commission, consisting of members of the United World Wrestling and International Olympic Committee. I had to make sure the team didn’t get derailed. I told him that there is no case where our wrestlers have violated any rule and expressed regret but he asked me, ‘How do you run the union. Your wrestler is not wearing the (official) outfit’. She could have lost a medal if she had won. This is no small incident. I had to beg and make pleas.
Do you think this is also an issue of gender equality? There was only one coach for four female wrestlers, but seven for three male wrestlers and support staff.
The Indian Olympic Association had set a limit on the number of coaches and physios that can go.
But as president of the federation, do you think it was right for four women to get just one coach?
You can ask this to (Assistant Secretary Vinod) Tomar ji. [Tomar: “We had one chief coach and common freestyle coaches for both teams.”] And if you are coming to the issue of Vinesh not having his personal physio at the Olympics, he didn’t tell the federation who his physio was. Unless he tells us, how will we know?
Vinesh has written several emails to the Federation with all the details.
He gave those offers to TOPS, never directly to us. We should have given him.
It has never happened that Vinesh has approached the federation. This is my charge against TOPS. They are directly looking after the issues like where the athlete should go for training.
So it is not a matter of planning itself, it is just that Vinesh, according to you, sent the proposal to TOPS and not to WFI?
If we had a plan, I could have sent my entire team. Bajrang and Vinesh were two very senior wrestlers. His ranking was going up to the first class at the Olympics. He thought a certain plan was better for his future so he told TOPS, who then told us.
Talking about the plan, the federation had organized only one national camp for women wrestlers from April.
Tell me, is there any other federation other than me that governs the nationals during? global pandemic?
That’s a different topic. Between April and July, there was only one national camp for women that lasted less than two weeks.
I don’t remember properly. Anshu (Malik) went to training in some country after the national camp, Poland I think and then either Russia or Belarus. I sent the whole team. Vinesh was earlier training in Hungary. I don’t mind his training abroad but neither the Indian coach nor the federation was taken into confidence. He took TOPS into confidence.
A men’s coach (Rajeev Tomar) went to the Tokyo Olympics as the coach of the women’s team.
No, he didn’t go as women coach but due to some reason he was made women coach temporarily.
What was the reason?
That Tomarji will tell you. [Tomar: He was there at the pre-departure camp in Sonepat. Since there is no difference in men’s and women’s freestyle wrestling, we had common coaches for both teams and he was one of them.]
Vinesh’s performance has been very good. Is banning an athlete from world championships a fair punishment?
I am not his enemy and I have nothing personal against him. but IOC The jealousy and humiliation that had to happen in front of… How could she wear a different outfit? He is old enough to understand that there is a proper outfit for every tournament. We have to see other wrestlers as well. Indian wrestling is not dependent on any one wrestler. We have to make sure that no one makes such mistake in future.
But then, even WFI has made mistakes in the past.
What mistake has WFI made? WFI has never done any mistake in life. No one can point to a single mistake made by us.
One example is during the Olympic qualifiers earlier this year. The women’s team arrived a few hours before the bout, had to lose weight at the airport terminal, could not sleep, could not eat …
It’s the little things when it comes to the schedule, when a team has to reach its destination. What can I do about this?
A few years back there was another instance where a physio had to compete in the qualifiers for the Rio Olympics as India did not have enough representatives.
I don’t have enough documents during this time. But if WFI is making mistakes then you should know that every other federation in the country is making 10 times more mistakes.
Do you want TOPS to be included in wrestling?
Yes, they are needed. But whatever program they make, the head coach and the federation should be taken into confidence.
How do you see the role of OGQ, JSW etc.?
We don’t need OGQ and JSW. They have spoiled three wrestlers, I will not take their names. When the Indian government is ready to spend on athletes, why do we need them? They can support junior and cadet wrestlers who really need support. Not only those who are close to winning the big medal. They are not spending as much as the government, which has spent around Rs 85 crore on wrestlers. My biggest problem is that they don’t inform me who they are sending as sparring partners.
If a wrestler is associated with any of these, what is their future?
won’t play at all (Won’t let them play).
There is no one like (Tokyo Silver Medalist) Ravi Dahiya…
I am also giving one lakh rupees per month to Ravi. From how much will you get money? We are ready to give you everything. If they still want to join, they should share a copy of their agreement with the players and take our views into consideration.
Vinesh had sent several emails to WFI about the plans
While JSW Sports did not comment, OGQ responded to WFI president Brij Bhushan Sharan’s allegations, saying they had a strong junior program and were not claiming undue credit. He also clarified that Vinesh Phogat had sent a bunch of emails to the WFI to inform them about their plans and to keep them in the loop.
OGQ has been supporting wrestlers Ravi Kumar Dahiya and Deepak Punia for the past 6 years since they were 17 and 16 years old respectively before they both came into limelight.
OGQ runs the largest junior program in the country where we support the training of over 100 junior athletes in the age group of 11-19 years in various sports. In fact, within wrestling, 23 of the 32 wrestlers we currently support are junior wrestlers in the age group of 13-19 years across 7 different academies in Haryana and Maharashtra. we have been supporting PV Sindhu Since she was 14 years old and Lakshya Sen was 10 years old.
Sarkar and Sai are undoubtedly the biggest and most important stakeholders in the Olympic Games. We have repeatedly said that the government, SAI and TOPS are doing a great job especially during the Tokyo Olympic cycle in the last 5 years. They have excellent bureaucrats and leaders like Sandeep Pradhan, DG, Sai and Commander. Rajagopalan, CEO, TOPS.
One of the most striking features of the last 5 years during this entire Tokyo Olympic cycle has been the teamwork between all the stakeholders involved in the Indian sport. Non-profit organizations such as the Sports Authority of India (SAI), national sports federations and OGQ have worked closely with each other to ensure that athletes receive the best possible support, that all gaps are covered and that no form of support is available. is not overlapping. For example, in the case of Mirabai Chanu, SAI, Weightlifting Federation of India and OGQ worked in close collaboration to send her twice to St. Louis, USA to train in the lead-up to the Tokyo Olympics.
To our knowledge, several emails were sent by Vinesh himself to WFI and TOPS in the last 10 months. These emails contained detailed information about training plans for Tokyo, Vinesh’s coach and support staff, and sparring partners.
Finally, in the same spirit of teamwork and collaboration that was mentioned earlier, we sent a proposal to WFI on 24 March 2021 to work on 3 main aspects – Junior and Cadet keeping in mind the Los Angeles 2028 Olympics Keeping wrestlers in mind for a long time, sports science and coaches .