Chak De in the Dangal: Narsingh Yadav trains wife Shilpi Sheoran for gold
Narsingh Yadav is one year into his four-year doping ban but has spent his time preparing his wife Shilpi Sheoran to triumph in the 63-kg category of the World Wrestling Championships
Shilpi with husband Narsingh Yadav
Narsingh Yadav is one year into his four-year doping ban, but he isn't brooding. The 2015 World Wrestling Championships bronze medallist has spent his time mentoring and preparing his wife Shilpi Sheoran to triumph in the 63-kg category of the World Wrestling Championships in Paris this week.
Yadav predicts that Shilpi will win a medal in the French capital and that will help, in his own words, "heal those wounds to some extent."
A win for Shilpi could well be Indian wrestling's Chak de moment.
India's Shilpi Sheoran with her gold medal at the South Asian Games in Guwahati last year
Until a little over a year ago, Yadav was the poster boy of Indian wrestling having automatically qualified for the 2016 Rio Olympics after winning bronze in the 74 kg category at the 2015 World Championships in Las Vegas. However, thereafter he was taken to court by India's two-time Olympic medal-winning grappler Sushil Kumar, who demanded a selection trial before the Games. Yadav won the court battle, but then failed dope tests on June 25 and July 5 for the banned drug, methandienone.
Narsingh Yadav grapples with wife Shilpi during a training session at SAI, Kandivli recently. Full video on www.mid-day.com
Narsingh was banned by the National Anti-Doping Agency. The wrestler defended himself by saying his food was sabotaged which NADA agreed to, and lifted the ban, permitting him to travel to Rio. However, an urgent application by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) challenged NADA's exoneration and banned Yadav for four years. As things stand, Yadav and his coach at Kandivli's Sports Authority of India (SAI), Jagmal Singh have demanded a CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) inquiry into the whole issue.
A lot of water has flown under the bridge for Yadav, 28, and his marriage to fellow grappler Shilpi, 28, this March, in his own words, has helped him, "recover from depression and return to training." But before he determines his own professional goals, Yadav has set up one for his better half.
"Shilpi is an experienced grappler. She finished fifth at the 2012 World Championships in Japan. She was a bit inexperienced then, but thereafter won gold at the 2016 South Asian Games in Guwahati. Currently, she is the best Indian wrestler in her category and I'm confident she can win a medal at this World Championships. We have been working hard over the last few months for this. In fact, I did not travel to Paris (for the Worlds) because I did not want to divert her focus," Yadav, a gold medalist at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, told mid-day yesterday.
Coach Jagmal added: "Technically, Narsingh is one of the best wrestlers in India, so despite being the chief coach here at SAI, I let him take the initiative of training Shilpi, while I supervise their workouts. Narsingh has fine-tuned Shilpi's technique and she won first place at the World Championships' selection trials in Lucknow recently."
Interestingly, Yadav has warned his wife to watch her back off the mat too. "There are jealous people all around and they do not want hardworking athletes to succeed. I have told Shilpi to be careful with whatever she consumes. I don't want her to suffer the same fate as me. My food was sabotaged and I paid a huge price for no fault of mine. I have been through hell last year.
"Shilpi and myself are also aiming for the next Olympics (Tokyo 2020) together. That's our ultimate dream," Yadav signed off.
Shilpi begins her campaign in Paris tomorrow.
Dope-tainted India wrestler Narsingh Yadav's coach Jagmal Singh is confident his ward will return to competition in a few months despite being just a year into the four-year ban imposed on him by the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) after failing dope tests on June 25 and July 5 for the banned drug, methandienone.
"The CBI inquiry is in its final stages and we are confident that Narsingh will get a clean chit once again from the Indian authorities. If NADA are convinced that Narsingh was right, then CBI cannot conclude otherwise. The whole matter should be resolved in two or three months and I'm sure Narsingh will being competitive wrestling sometime later this year itself," Jagmal told mid-day yesterday while overseeing a training session with his most famous ward at the Sports Authority of India (SAI) complex in Kandivli.
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Indian wrestler Narsingh Yadav turns mentor for wife Shilpi Sheoran