A turbulent run-up to the Rio Games behind him, Narsingh Yadav will be eyeing a fairytale climax while old warhorse Yogeshwar Dutt would look to bid adieu with a second straight medal when India begin their Olympic wrestling campaign here on Monday.
Midway into the 17-day extravaganza, the biggest ever Indian contingent of 100-plus athletes is yet to land a medal and the onus would now be on the wrestlers to make up for it.
Having finished with two medals in wrestling at the London Games four years ago, the expectations are high and it would be up to the eight-member team to shoulder the responsibility.
However, the build-up to the Rio Games hasn’t been very smooth for the Indian wrestling contingent with Narsingh fighting to clear his name in a doping scandal till the last moments.
While the entire team’s preparations were affected due to a doping “conspiracy” surrounding Narsingh, but the man at the centre of the controversy himself had put up a brave front all through and fought out against all odds to emerge triumphant in the end.
It started with two-time Olympic medallist Sushil Kumar demanding a selection trial in men’s 74kg freestyle against Narsingh, who had bagged the quota place for India last year in this weight category.
The fight went to the Delhi High Court, which dismissed Sushil’s plea of seeking a trial. However, that was not the end of hurdles for Narsingh as there was more trouble in store.
With just 20-odd days for the Olympic Games to start, 27-year-old wrestler from Maharashtra tested positive for a banned substance in two dope tests conducted by the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA).
The failed dope tests almost derailed his participation in the Olympics but Narsingh appealed and NADA constituted a three-member panel to hear his case.