Noida: Narsingh Yadav, the 2015 World Championships bronze medallist (74kg), will play in his first competition at the national level since serving a four-year doping ban on Saturday when he competes in men’s National Freestyle Wrestling Championships here.
Yadav, who was banned before the 2016 Rio Olympics after failing two dope tests for anabolic steroid methandienone, made his international comeback in the Individual World Cup held in Belgrade, Serbia, from December 12 to 18. He lost to Germany’s Osman Kubilay Cakici in a close opening-round bout.
The freestyle nationals will be Yadav’s national comeback. He will be the biggest name in the two-day competition after his staunch rival, Sushil Kumar, withdrew this month.
Around 252 wrestlers will compete at the National Wrestling Championships. The tournament marks the first leg of the wrestling nationals that will be held across three venues to avoid large gatherings amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
While the men’s championships will be held in Noida, Uttar Pradesh, the women’s championships will be held in Agra on January 30 and 31. The Greco-Roman competition will be held in Jalandhar on February 20 and 21.
The 74kg category will be the most hotly contested with stars like Yadav, 2020 Asian Championship silver medallist Jitender Kumar, and two-time Asian Championship medallist Parveen Rana in the fray.
The four wrestlers who have qualified for the Olympics — Bajrang Punia (65kg) and Vinesh Phogat (53kg), Deepak Punia (86kg), and Ravi Dahiya (57kg) – are not competing in here. While Bajrang and Vinesh are training abroad, Dahiya and Deepak have been exempted.