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Narsingh wins gold despite official blues

This is a story of sport coming out on top no matter how hard administrators try to ensure it ends otherwise, reports Siddharth Aney.

other Updated: May 13, 2010 01:57 IST
Siddharth Aney

This is a story of sport coming out on top no matter how hard administrators try to ensure it ends otherwise.

Narsingh Yadav wasn't considered the strongest fighter in his weight category in the Indian team. But when he was given the chance at the Senior Asian Wrestling Championship, being held here as a test event for the Commonwealth Games, he grappled with it brilliantly, pinning it down with the event's first gold for India.

Yadav beat Iranian Saeed Riahi in a dramatic final to win the 74 kg freestyle title.

Through the day, the decent crowd at the Indira Gandhi stadium were drowned out by the large, noisy Iranian contingent. Wrestling is the top sport in Iran, and they have fielded the strongest team at these championships.

Things changed late in the day, when the stocky Indian faced off against the taller Iranian. Suddenly the chants of Iran-Iran were drowned out by India-India. The crowd roared everytime Yadav got into what looked like a good position. When he came back from a point down to level the second round, the stadium erupted.

And in the final round, when he delivered the winning blow, the protests of the Iranian bench faded into the background, as the Indian contingent stormed the mat to congratulate their champion.

The soft spoken Yadav kept the media waiting for almost 2 hours, but when asked who he would dedicate the medal to, “ to the country,” he said, without batting a bruised eyelid.

Admittedly, exepctations weren't sky high. “I planned to take it one bout at a time. Iran is always a tough team to beat, but we had been watching videos and training hard, so when I reached the final I knew I had a good chance, “ Yadav said.

It turned out to be a good end to a day that saw the other Indian wrestlers in the fray, Rahul Mann and Masuam Khatri, go out before the medal rounds.

It was also a difficult day, thanks to the organisers and the police, who made it as hard as possible for the media, and the general public no doubt, to enjoy the sport in display. But let's not cloud Nar Singh Yadav's victory with the regular story of Indian sport. That is for another day.