Senior national wrestling: Narsingh Yadav falls as Sandeep Singh Mann bags 74kg freestyle title

Sandeep Singh Mann eclipsed national team regular Jitender Kumar in the final seconds to clinch the fiercely competitive 74kg weight division.

By Naveen Peter ·

Narsingh Yadav could go no further than the pre-quarterfinals at the 65th senior national wrestling championships while Punjab’s Sandeep Singh Mann beat Jitender Kumar to clinch the 74kg freestyle title on Saturday.

Making his domestic return after a four-year hiatus due to a doping ban, Maharashtra’s Narsingh Yadav began his campaign on a strong note at the Chandra Mauli Pandey Kushti Academy in Noida, Uttar Pradesh.

The former world championships medallist was on the money with a 10-0 win over defending champion and Asian championships silver medallist Gourav Baliyan in his opening round. But Narsingh Yadav lost out to eventual bronze-medallist Amit Dhankar -- a former Asian champion -- in a closely contested pre-quarterfinal bout.

Last month, Narsingh Yadav lost in his competitive return at the Individual World Cup in the opening round.

Meanwhile, Punjab’s Sandeep Singh Mann managed an upset 3-2 win over Jitender Kumar to clinch the fiercely competitive 74kg freestyle title with 10 seconds to spare. 

In the final, Sandeep began by pushing his opponent out of bounds for the first point. But the lead didn’t last long as Jitender Kumar, who regularly trains with Indian wrestling ace Bajrang Punia, capitalised on a leg attack to inflict a takedown for his opening points.

The two wrestlers kept a tight defence from thereon with the referee often warning them for passivity.  

But the tables turned in the final minute with Sandeep managing a gut wrench and ensured that he exposed his opponent on to the mat to take the lead before seeing off the match for the title.

It was the second time Sandeep Singh Mann had beaten Jitender Kumar -- a national team regular and an Asian championships silver-medallist -- in the dying seconds at the nationals. The two had a similar bout during the 2019 edition.

Sandeep Singh Mann, 21, will be headed to the national trials next ahead of the Asian Olympic qualifiers in April.

Meanwhile, Pankaj of the Services won the title in the 57kg weight division while Railways’ Sumit Malik defended his national crown in the 125kg freestyle category.

The bouts in the remaining five weight categories -- 65kg, 70kg, 79kg, 86kg and 97kg -- at the senior national wrestling championships will be held on Sunday.