Narsingh Yadav: Asian Championship bronze one of the most important wins of my career

Narsingh’s performance at the Asian Championships has bolstered his resolve of achieving his Olympic dream.

Narsingh Yadav...“My dream is to win an Olympics medal and I am still trying to achieve it.”

Narsingh Yadav rates his comeback international medal, an Asian championships bronze in 79kg freestyle category, as one of the most important achievements in his long career.

In his international career spanning over a decade, 31-year-old Narsingh has remained a leading wrestler in 74kg, achieving podium finishes in almost all elite events barring the Olympics. The Mumbai-based wrestler hogged the limelight with his gold medal winning feats in the 2010 Asian championships and Delhi Commonwealth Games and went on to win Commonwealth championships, Asian Games and World championships.

His 2015 Worlds bronze medal brought him glory as well as hard luck as it fetched him an Olympic quota place in the 2016 Rio Games. Sushil Kumar demanding a trial with Narsingh for the Olympics spot triggered an ugly battle and added a forgettable chapter to the history of Indian sports.

Subsequently, Narsingh failed a dope test amid claims of sabotage. He was pulled out of the Rio Olympics in dramatic circumstances when the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) overturned a National Anti-Doping Agency disciplinary panel’s clean chit to hand Narsingh a four-year ban in 2016.

Even as Narsingh claimed innocence without substance, he completed the suspension last year and returned to action. He might not have been able to win the trials for the 74kg Olympic qualifier, but is hopeful of achieving his Olympics dream nevertheless.

The Asian bronze in 79kg has bolstered Narsingh’s resolve. “The medal was very important for me. It will boost my confidence as I was struggling in the last four years to get back to my form,” Narsingh told Sportstar.

“It was a difficult phase as I got banned for four years when I was at the peak of my career. But I worked hard, continued with my training and tried my best to make a comeback. The comeback was good. I am wrestling well now. If I get a chance I am ready to compete in the qualifier and win a quota place for the Olympics. The decision is in the federation’s hand… My dream is to win an Olympics medal and I am still trying to achieve it.”

‘Tough period’

Life away from competitive wrestling was difficult for Narsingh, who battled negative thoughts and the lack of top class training for a substantial phase.

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“The four-year ban was a tough period. Sometimes I had negative thoughts as I had no sponsor and no support. My coaches and my family were the only sources of support. So I wanted to get over this quickly and get back to mainstream wrestling because this is one thing I love the most.

“My family supported me through this phase. My father, brother and wife (international wrestler Shilpi Sheoran) are all wrestlers. They always backed and motivated me. My wife used to say, ‘This phase will pass off.’ I am thankful to them.

“I also thank my fans who always want me to do well. I thank the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) which gave me another chance to make a comeback. Its president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh always supports good wrestlers and he allowed me to get back to the National camp. It helped me a lot as I got good sparring and training and prepared for the competitions.”

Since his third Asian medal has instilled self-belief in Narsingh, the seasoned wrestler is eager to work harder than ever to prove himself against a batch of young and energetic competitors.

“I wanted to get back to my peak form and without competitions it was difficult to do that. Now this medal will push me further to do well in other competitions,” Narsingh signed off.

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