Wrestler Narsingh Yadav set for Serbia World Cup after clearing COVID-19 test


Wrestler Narsingh Yadav's participation in the upcoming World Cup in Serbia was confirmed on Friday after he returned a negative test for the coronavirus.

Making a comeback to competitive wrestling after serving a four-year doping ban, Narsingh had replaced Jitender Kinha in the 74kg category in the Indian squad but was rendered doubtful for the competition after testing positive for the virus.

The Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) confirmed that he will travel to Belgrade on December 14 along with the men's freestyle squad. "I just had minor cold, there was no fever or any other symptom for 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 from Hisar.

Many top wrestlers, including Bajrang Punia and Vinesh Phogat, are skipping the event, anticipating that competition will not be strong but for Narsingh, the World Cup, scheduled to held from December 12-18, holds significance.

"Whether it is 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," he said.

"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," the 31-year old said.

India are yet to earn a quota for the Tokyo Olympics in the 74kg category as Jitender fizzled at the 2019 World Championship, which offered quota places.

With the return of Narsingh in this category, there will be a three-way fight among Jitender, Narsingh and double Olympic medallist Sushil Kumar to be India's representative at the next quota-offering event.

"I was already training hard even during my ban period. It was just that I was not able to compete. I thank the WFI President for letting me compete again. Hopefully, I will qualify for Tokyo," said the 2015 World Championship bronze medallist.

With the situation not allowing trials, the WFI let all the participants at the 2020 Asian Championship in New Delhi to compete in Belgrade. However, India is sending wrestlers in men's freestyle 65kg and 92kg and women's 53kg.

The Greco Roman wrestlers will leave for Belgrade on December 10, the women's squad on Decembe 12 and the men's freestyle team on December 14, WFI assistant secretary Vinod Tomar said.

"Due to the pandemic, we are sending team in batches," he said.