Double Olympic-medallist Sushil Kumar's qualification for next year's Commonwealth Games ended in ugly scenes after his supporters clashed with those of rival wrestler Parveen Rana, resulting in an unprecedented brawl after the trials in New Delhi on Friday.
The selection trial for the Gold Coast Games, to be held in April next year, was organised at the Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium, and was attended by, among others, Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) President Brij Bhushan Singh Sharan. The proceedings ended on a stormy note at the Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium here when supporters of both the wrestlers came to blows. Sushil, who returned to the international arena after three years with a Commonwealth Championships gold, won all his bouts in the 74kg category.
But things took an ugly turn when Rana, after losing to Sushil in the semifinal clash, claimed that the decorated wrestler's supporters beat him and his elder brother "for daring to take the ring" against him. Sushil, on the other hand, claimed that he was bitten by Rana during the bout. "...he bit me but no problem, it might be his tactics to stop me from performing well. All this is a part of sports," Sushil told reporters after the bouts. "Whatever happened here was wrong. I condemn it. There was mutual respect after the fight ended," he added.
Incidentally, the 34-year-old Sushil had beaten Rana in the Commonwealth Championships final in South Africa a few weeks back. Also, Rana was among the three wrestlers who gave a walkover to Sushil in the National Championships last month owing to the "respect" they had for the veteran. Today, Rana alleged that Sushil's supporters gave death threats to him and dared him to participate in the upcoming Pro Wrestling League. WFI President Sharan said the fracas took place outside the wrestling arena and he had not witnessed the drama. However, he promised action if a formal complaint is lodged with the federation. "The incident didn't happen in front of us, it happened outside, in the warm-up area. It was instigated from just one side," Sharan told PTI without specifying the camp he was referring to.
"I have feared such an incident since last year and that is why the trials have been postponed. We had written to Delhi Police to provide security but it was not adequate," he said. "We at WFI can take any action only when somebody comes forward and lodges a complaint to us. So far nobody, neither Sushil or Rana, has lodged any complaint. As and when anyone does, we will investigate and take strict action as per our jurisdiction area," he assured. With his selection for the quadrennial games, Sushil would be aiming for a third successive gold at the Commonwealth Games.