If I go to Rio, will win a medal for Narsingh Yadav: Parveen Rana
It seems no Indian Olympic contingent can be sent-off on a non controversial note. After the tennis fiasco before London in 2012, a major doping question mark has been drawn on India’s wrestling legitimacy. Narsingh Yadav’s 74 kg weight category selection ahead of Sushil Kumar was the lull before the storm, culminating with a drug-ridden soap opera like no other. An unlikely selection among this melting pot has been Delhi’s Parveen Rana. The 24-year old will be flying to Rio in 10 days time to represent India in the much-debated weight category.
Speaking exclusively to Sportskeeda, he said, ”I was actually sitting in front of the television when I first came to know about the selection. My coaches called me that night itself and told me I’ll be flying to Georgia for training. So I packed in a couple of hours and left, we are all saddened by the controversy. This is Narsingh’s slot and we all believe that he cannot do something like this. If I end up going I will be winning a medal for Narsingh and India. Wrestling as a sport has a lot of dedicated people involved, who work very hard, I will do it for them.”
Neither me nor my parents are proud of me on my Rio debut in such circumstances: Parveen
Having idolised Sushil Kumar, Yogeshwar Dutt and Narsingh as his childhood heroes, Parveen is a junior prodigy of sorts. At just 16 years of age, he was winning Asian sub-junior tournaments. In 2008, he won gold at the Commonwealth Youth Games, underlining his ability to fight with the world’s elite. A Junior World Championship bronze medal in 2011 saw him represent the senior team on the continental front. Immediate success came his way, after gritty comeback to win bronze in 2013.
The Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) termed Parveen a provisional replacement for Narsingh, till he was given a clearance by authorities. However, with the game less than 10 days away, time is running out for both Narsingh and WFI. Hence, it’s increasingly likely that the boy from Pata in rural Delhi will be donning the tri-colour. He said, “I have been training with the national senior team only. I was fighting with Yogeshwar, Sushil and Narsingh, during all their national camps. So, I am trained, but in all honesty I was not expecting it. We also saw Narsingh get better in training, so it’s a major disappointment if he doesn’t get cleared.”
A driver’s son, Parveen comes from a humble background in rural Delhi. Being introduced to the sport by his uncle , he began seriously training in 2006 to become a professional wrestler. He added, “The victories of both Yogeshwar and Sushil Sir himself have been a blessing for wrestling, the facilities at the grass-root level have also improved. Before the sub-junior level, I had to sacrifice on my diet and growth, but which Indian wrestler hasn’t? When they started winning, everything changed.”
Coming from a humble background, Parveen is Indian wrestling’s junior prodgy
Having honed his skills at the Chhatrasal stadium in Delhi, he was also a part of the World Championships in Las Vegas last year. He failed to get the better of Narsingh, but did raise eyebrows with gold medal winning performances at the Senior international Championship in Italy.
Apart from respecting the legends of Indian wrestling, Parveen has also trained extensively under Sushil Kumar’s watchful eyes. He added, “My entire family is feeling bad about the situation, I did want to get to the Olympics but not in this manner. Sushil ji has been my mentor for the longest time, I have learned the about the smallest of defects in my game from him. He has helped me a lot in my career as well, in terms of showing me how to go about things. It’s a close knit community, where everyone is helping others to get better. Hence, something like this is quite unbelievable.”
Former WFI spokesperson Sangram Singh remained upbeat about Parveen’s chances. He said, “It doesn’t make any sense, someone who didn’t dope for 15 years at the top will dope now, before the biggest event of his career. However, if Parveen does go, he does have the potential to win a medal. It matters on the day, if he does end up going our support shouldn’t be any less for him as it would have been for Narsingh. On more than one occasion, he has surprised us all. The doping issue should be investigated properly,
so that the deserving wrestler goes. However, this incident so close to the games is highly unfortunate for the sport.”
An FIR has also been filed by Narsingh’s camp alleging, who are alleging conspiracy. With just nine days to go to Rio, the solution to this problem is unlikely, hence a reluctant Parveen Rana might just see his Olympic dreams come true in the most unlikeliest of circumstances.