'Her comments are insensitive': Top wrestlers express frustration with PT Usha's words amid protests

Outrage has erupted against the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) and its president Brijbhushan Sharan Singh, who has been accused of sexual harassment and mismanagement of athletes

By ANI

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Photo: AFP
Photo: AFP

Published: Thu 27 Apr 2023, 11:07 PM

Commonwealth Games gold medalist Vinesh Phogat on Thursday expressed her frustration with Indian Olympic Association (IOA) president PT Usha's comments on the wrestler's protest against the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) and its president Brijbhushan Sharan Singh.

PT Usha said on Thursday that the wrestlers should have approached the IOA earlier, instead of going out in the streets against the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) and its president Brijbhushan Sharan Singh, who the wrestlers accused of sexual harassment and mismanagement of athletes.

"Indian Olympic Association (IOA) [has] a committee for sexual harassment; instead of going to the streets, they (protesting wrestlers) could have come to us earlier, but they did not come to IOA. It is not good for sports... they should also have some discipline," said Usha to the media.

Wrestlers have expressed disappointment with Usha's comments.

"Being a woman athlete, she (PT Usha) is not listening to other women athletes. We have followed her since childhood and [were] inspired by her. Where is indiscipline here? We are sitting here peacefully.." Sakshi Malik told mediapersons.

Vinesh Phogat, CWG and World Championships medalist, also called Usha's comments "insensitive".

"We live as per the constitution and are independent citizens. We can go anywhere. If we are sitting out in the streets, there must be some reason... [the] reason that nobody listened to us, be it IOA or Sports Ministry. I even called her, but she did not pick up my phone," he said.

Bajrang Punia, the Olympic medalist, also said, "You feel sad when she says these things because she is the IOA Chief and a woman herself. She cried for her academy in front of the media. She wants us to approach IOA, but we went there three months back, [and] no justice was given."

Ace Indian grapplers such as Vinesh Phogat, Sakshi Malik, Bajrang Punia, and many other wrestlers are involved in the protest against the WFI chief.

Olympic gold medalist Abhinav Bindra also supported the wrestlers in their protest with a poignant tweet on Wednesday.

"As athletes, we train hard every day to represent our country on the international stage. It is deeply concerning to see our athletes finding it necessary to protest on the streets regarding the allegations of harassment in the Indian wrestling administration," Bindra tweeted.

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