Thakur refuses to get embroiled in Punia controversy

Bengaluru: Sports Minister Anurag Thakur on Saturday refused to involve himself in the boiling controversy over wrestler Bajrang Punia returning his Padma Shri in protest against the election of Sanjay Singh, a Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh loyalist, as the president of Wrestling Federation of India (WFI).

Olympic medallist Punia had reached the Kartavya Path in New Delhi on Friday to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and hand over a protest letter but kept the Padma Shri medallion on a footpath there being blocked by the policemen.

“I have already spoken enough. No more comments,” said Thakur here at the SAI centre on the sidelines of a function to honour eminent athletes and Asian Games medal winners.

Thakur also inaugurated new hostel facilities and a Synthetic Athletic Track at SAI.

However, Thakur exhorted past champions to come forward and help the budding athletes to make a mark in international-level competitions.

“Our athletes won over 100 medals both in the Asian Games (in Hangzhou) and in the Asian Para Games. These stories need to be highlighted,” Thakur said.

“Before they departed (for Asian Games) I had asked them whether they would be able to breach the 100-medal mark and they expressed collective confidence, and they did it too.”

The Minister then asked the former champions to pitch in to sustain the success in future competitions.

“We have won several major events. We had won the first Thomas Cup last year and we also saw a lot of success in hockey, athletics and other events.

Now, the champions should ensure that they pass the knowledge and experience to the upcoming athletes so that we can better this effort in future.”