Narsingh Yadav recovers from COVID, set to compete at Individual World Cup

Indian wrestler Narsingh Yadav will compete in the 74kg category in Belgrade.

By Naveen Peter ·

Indian wrestler Narsingh Yadav will return to competitive action at the Individual World Cup in Belgrade, Serbia later this month.

Along with fellow grappler Gurpreet Singh, Narsingh Yadav had tested positive for COVID-19. However, Narsingh has now tested negative for the coronavirus in the latest round of tests conducted by the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) on the national campers. Gurpreet too is expected to join the squad once he returns a negative test.

The national federation confirmed that the 31-year-old Narsingh Yadav will replace Jitender Kinha in the 74kg category and will travel with the Indian freestyle wrestlers on December 14 for the Belgrade event.

“I just had a minor cold, there was no fever or any other symptom for the virus, so I knew that it (test) will be negative. I have been training well for this tournament. We will do well in Serbia,” Narsingh told PTI.

Top Indian wrestlers like Sushil Kumar, Bajrang Punia and Vinesh Phogat have chosen to give the Individual World Cup, which has replaced the now-cancelled World Championships, a miss.

But for Narisingh Yadav, world championship bronze medallist in 2015, it’s an opportunity to get some mat time under his belt as he returns to competitive action after four years following a doping ban.

“Whether it is the world championship or World Cup, it still is an international tournament. I will compete after a long, long time, it will be good exposure for tournaments ahead," Narisingh reckoned.

"It is important to play since the tournament is being held after a long time. We won't know our level unless we compete. There were no tournaments due to coronavirus pandemic, so it is very important for me to compete here,” said the Indian who was last seen in action before the Rio 2016 Olympics.

India is yet to win an Olympic quota in the 74kg freestyle category.

At the 2019 world championships, an event that had Olympic quotas on offer, India’s only two-time Olympic medallist in an individual event — Sushil Kumar — fell short of his target, losing out to Khadzhimurad Gadzhiyev of Azerbaijan in the opening round.

With the Olympic postponement opening the doors for Narsingh Yadav to compete, the 74kg category is set to see a three-way battle -- between Narsingh Yadav, Sushil Kumar and Jitender Kinha -- at the national level.