At the recently-concluded Senior National Wrestling Championship, all eyes were at Narsingh Pancham Yadav (74 kg), who was returning to action after four years of doping suspension. He had a very good start as he defeated young Gaurav Baliyan, the defending champion, without breaking much sweat (10-0), but lost a close bout to Dhankar (4-3) in the next round. A last-minute counterattack by Dhankar saw him turn the tables on Narsingh. Dhankar and Vijay of Haryana won bronze medals in the 74kg.
Yadav led 2-1 until the very last second of a bout in which both wrestlers took a defensive approach. Dhankar, however, managed to snatch two points via exposure (when a wrestler puts his opponent on his back) just as the clock ticked down to zero.
It was followed by a lengthy review process with Yadav’s camp claiming that the exposure came after time was up. After the big screen gave a rather blurry image of the time and score on the television screens beside the mat, the officials switched to watching the replay from the television itself.
With the dramatical result, Narsingh was left fuming and distraught. The score was declared 3-2 in favour of Dhankar, much to the dismay of Yadav who approached WFI president Brij Bhushan Singh. He eventually dragged himself away from the competition area to the practice mat where he stayed for a short while before going back to the area with a video clip of his bout to further fight his case. Singh, however, told Yadav that the officials’ decision will stand after which the wretsler came back to the practice mat and stayed there for a couple of hours.
A crowd comprising Yadav’s fellow wrestlers and fans collected around him while officials and other coaches offered words of sympathy to him and his coach Jagmal Singh. While the latter spoke to them, Yadav stayed largely silent and lay on his back with a towel on his face. Eventually, the crowd dispersed and it took a few more minutes before Yadav got himself up from the mat and left the stadium.
Yadav was the star attraction at the nationals on Saturday that was devoid of two-time Olympic medallist Sushil Kumar and Bajrang Punia, Deepak Punia, and Ravi Dahiya, all of whom have qualified for the Tokyo Olympics.
Yadav, the 2015 World Championship bronze medallist, was making his comeback on the national scene after a four-year doping ban. He made light work of Gaurav Baliyan, the defending champion in the 74kg category, in his first round bout which he won 10-0 in the a minute and 45 seconds.
Dhankar went on to lose to eventual winner Sandeep Singh in the next bout and settled for bronze.