Deepak Punia, two other wrestlers test COVID positive

The trio have been shifted to a hospital in Haryana as a precautionary measure.

By Rahul Venkat

Indian wrestlers Deepak Punia, Navin and Krishan Kumar have tested positive for the coronavirus, the Sports Authority of India (SAI) confirmed on Thursday.

The trio, who had reported to the SAI centre in Sonepat, Haryana for a national training camp, have now been shifted to a nearby hospital as a precautionary measure. Their condition will be monitored round the clock.

Deepak Punia, Navin and Krishan Kumar underwent the mandatory RTPCR test in accordance with the SAI’s Standard Operating Procedures (SOP), after which their tests returned positive.

Five other wrestlers, coaches and other support staff who arrived for the camp are currently undergoing the mandatory 14-day quarantine period at the SAI centre.

The national camp for the male wrestlers was supposed to get underway on September 15 but further news is awaited after this latest development.

Rio 2016 Olympian and Khel Ratna Vinesh Phogat had also tested COVID positive last week, which means that four Indian wrestlers have now been hit by the virus.

Among the three male Indian wrestlers, Deepak Punia, who competes in the 86kg category, is the only one who has already booked a quota place for Tokyo Olympics.

Navin, a 65kg wrestler, and Krishan Kumar, who wrestles in the 125kg category, are among the probables who could make the Tokyo Olympics cut through the qualifiers.

The 21-year-old Punia won silver at the 2019 World Wrestling Championships in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan to qualify for the Summer Games. The talented Punia will be a medal contender in Tokyo.

Deepak Punia was among three Indian wrestlers to test COVID-positive

Punia was encouraged to keep pursuing the sport by two-time Olympic medallist Sushil Kumar when he contemplated joining the Indian Army in 2016 because it offered his family better financial stability.

Sushil Kumar was proved right two years later as Deepak Punia returned with silver at the 2018 World Junior Wrestling Championships before winning gold in the 2019 edition.