Narsigh Yadav returns to India’s 74kg freestyle division

The 31-year-old grappler returns to the mix after having served a four-year doping ban. Narsingh Yadav will join the wrestling camp next month.

By Naveen Peter

One of India’s well-known wrestlers Narsingh Yadav will return to the national set-up next month when he joins the camp for Olympic hopefuls in Sonepat after having served a four-year-long doping ban.

The Maharashtra wrestler was tipped as the next big thing in Indian wrestling before being banned a day ahead of his bout at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.

Competing in the 74kg freestyle category, the introduction of Narsingh Yadav will add to the fiercely competitive weight division that includes India’s only two-time Olympic medallist wrestler Sushil Kumar.

While Sushil Kumar has requested the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) to exempt him from the national camp as he wishes to train independently at the Chhatrasal Stadium in New Delhi, the other wrestlers are expected to reach Sonepat on September 1.

74 किलो भार वर्ग में कुश्ती लड़ते पहलवान नरसिंह यादव

“Narsingh has been called for the camp. Sushil has been training with his own support staff at the Chhatrasal Stadium and he wanted to continue with the arrangement. He will be called whenever the selection trial is conducted,” a senior WFI official told the Hindustan Times.

Apart from Sushil Kumar and Narsingh Yadav, the 74kg category also includes quality wrestlers in Jitender Kumar, Praveen Rana, Amit Dhankar and upcoming talent Gaurav Baliyan

Tough road for Sushil Kumar

Sushil Kumar has endured a rough patch over the past seasons, including an opening-round exit from the 2019 World Wrestling Championships. But his compatriots have grown from strength-to-strength during this period. 

Earlier this year, the Indian legend had excused himself from the national trials to select the Indian team for Asian Championships too, owing to a shoulder injury.

While this saw Jitender Kumar beat a field and represent India at the 2019 Asian meet in New Delhi, his silver-medal performance saw him being fast-tracked to the team for the Asian Olympic qualifiers too.

This move somewhat made Sushil Kumar’s chances of making it to Tokyo 2020 difficult. He now had to hope that Jitender Kumar failed to grab a quota place at the continental event to give him a chance to compete for a place in the Indian team ahead of the World Olympic qualifiers.

However, with the Tokyo Games and the qualification events postponed by a year, the WFI is looking forward to fresh trials ahead of the next competition, handing Kumar another chance to have a crack at the Olympic slot.