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Wrestler Shubham fails dope test, replacement Pankaj Malik to fly with women’s team for Worlds

By Express News Service

CHENNAI: Pankaj Malik will be Shubham’s replacement in the Indian team for the World Championships scheduled to begin in Oslo, Norway from Saturday onwards. The 57kg Haryana wrestler received a call from the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) a few days ago after Shubham failed the dope test. 

Pankaj is scheduled to fly for Oslo along with the women’s team on Friday night. Incidentally, it was Shubham, who defeated Pankaj at the selection trials held in August to pick the national team for the Worlds.

Pankaj, an Indian Air Force wrestler, hails from Sonepat’s Bhainswal Kalan village, the native place of London Olympics bronze medallist Yogeshwar Dutt.

“Yes, I will be leaving tonight along with the women’s team. I had competed in the junior world championships in the past and was also part of the national team that competed in the Matteo Pellicone Tournament in Rome held in March this year,” Pankaj told this daily. 

The bout in the 57kg weight category will begin on Sunday which means the wrestler will hardly get any time to acclimatise before taking the mat. The freestyle team had left for the venue on Wednesday night.

Pankaj had won the 57kg gold in the 2020 senior national championship held earlier this year in Noida. “I know the weight category has gained prominence after Ravi Dahiya’s silver in the Tokyo Olympics. Despite losing the trials, I didn’t stop training. I hope I can justify my selection and help the country win a medal in the event,” signed off the wrestler.

Ravi had won a bronze medal in the 2019 Worlds, which also helped him to secure an Olympic quota.

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