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Spotlight will be on Narsing

Narsingh Yadav.  

The last time Indian wrestlers were in action at home was in February 2020. Exactly 11 months later, more than 250 of them will get back on the mat across 10 weight categories, many for the first time since then, at the two-day Freestyle Wrestling National Championships here starting on Saturday.

The Wrestling Federation of India has decided to split the nationals across different cities to adhere to COVID-19 guidelines. The women’s event is scheduled for January 30-31 in Agra and the Greco-Roman competition in Jalandhar on February 20-21.

Chance to stake claim

With the top names exempted and Olympic spots yet to be sealed, the next two days would be a chance for several hopefuls to stake their claim but the biggest attraction will undoubtedly be in the 74kg. With two-time Olympic medallist Sushil Kumar not participating, competition is expected to be tough in the category with several former champions in the fray.

The spotlight will firmly be on Narsingh Yadav, returning from a four-year doping ban. His first outing since becoming eligible late last year at the Individual World Cup in December ended in a first-round elimination that highlighted his rust.

Other contenders include Jitender Kumar, silver medallist at the Asian Championships last year, former Asian champion Amit Dhankhar and Parveen Rana.

Among others, youngster Gourav Baliyan will be favourite in the 79kg while Satyavrat Kadian will be hoping to win in the 97kg. India is yet to qualify in the 74, 97 and 125kg categories with selection trials for the Asian qualifiers (Almaty, April 9-11) likely towards the end of March.

Exempted

The three male wrestlers already qualified for Tokyo — Bajrang Punia (65kg), Deepak Punia (86kg) and Ravi Dahiya (57kg) — have been exempted from participation.

The WFI has insisted on negative COVID-19 test reports for all participants, team staff and officials with face masks mandatory and regular sanitisation of the mats through the competition. Haryana, Railways and Services have been allowed to field two teams of 10 wrestlers each.

The schedule:

Saturday: 57kg, 61kg, 74kg, 92kg, 125kg.

Sunday: 65kg, 70kg, 79kg, 86kg, 97kg.

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Printable version | Mar 5, 2021 7:36:49 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/other-sports/spotlight-will-be-on-narsing/article33637122.ece

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