Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Brij Bhushan loyalist Sanjay Singh becomes new WFI President, Olympic medallist Sakshi quits wrestling


New Delhi: Brij Bhushan loyalist Sanjay Singh on Thursday became the new President of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) with his panel comfortably winning 13 of the 15 posts in the delayed polls, an outcome that triggered outrage among protesting wrestlers with Sakshi Malik announcing her retirement from the sport.

Sanjay, who is UP Wrestling Association Vice President and hails from Varanasi, secured 40 votes as against seven that his rival and 2010 CWG gold medallist Anita Sheoran got.

Given the tremendous interest the outgoing chief has in the sport, it is expected that RSS-affiliate Sanjay, who runs a construction business, will consult him in policy decisions.

The CWG gold medallist panel though managed to win the post of secretary general as Prem Chand Lochab beat Darshan Lal.

The outcome of the polls would give top wrestlers Bajrang Punia, Vinesh Phogat and Sakshi Malik the feeling that their protest against Brij Bhushan has come to naught as they could not get the fraternity behind them despite aggressively pushing for a change of guard. A close associate of the BJP MP is now at the helm.

They had accused Brij Bhushan of sexually harassing women wrestlers, including juniors, and managed to mobilise huge support from different sections of society but the protest fizzled out the day they planned a march towards new Parliament building on May 28 when Delhi police removed all the protesters from Jantar Mantar for rioting.

The wrestlers had officially called off their protest on June 7 when Sports Minister
Anurag Thakur assured them that none of the family members or close associates of Brij Bhushan will be allowed to enter the WFI election fray.

RSS-affiliate Sanjay hails from Varanasi and is a very close associate of Brij Bhushan. Given the tremendous interest the outgoing chief has in the sport, it is expected that Sanjay will consult him in policy decisions.

Stage set for lifting UWW ban on WFI

The election of the new executive council will also pave the way for lifting the UWW ban on WFI. The world governing body of the game had banned WFI for not conducting election on time, forcing Indian wrestlers to compete as neutral athletes at the 2023 World Championships.

The election process was set in motion in July but was delayed because of court cases. The Supreme Court recently set aside the stay imposed by the Punjab and Haryana High Court, paving the way for the process to elect the new WFI governing body.

Olympic medallist Sakshi quits wrestling

Rio Olympic bronze medallist Sakshi Malik on Thursday announced her retirement from the sport, protesting against Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh loyalist Sanjay Singh winning the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) election for the top job, here.

Sanjay, a close associate of outgoing WFI chief Brij Bhushan became the new WFI president with his panel winning 13 of the 15 posts in the elections here on Thursday.

“We fought from our heart but if a man like Brij Bhushan, his business partner and a close aide is elected as the president of WFI, I quit wrestling,” said a teary-eyed Sakshi, and kept her shoes on the table in a dramatic announcement.


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