Repechage is a rule which is introduced in any sort of series competition. The rule allows eliminated participants, who missed it by a small margin due to unfair draws, to qualify for the next round.
Repechage rule was brought into action as there always remains a possibility of two quality contenders facing each other in an early round, resulting knock-out of one of the best wrestlers in the competition in an early stage, which is unfair. The rule provides a new life to the eliminated candidate, who was drawn to the best wrestler in the tournament just due to his poor luck, to at least try again show his capabilities.
There are different kinds of Repechage rules:
Full repechage, Quarter-final repechage, Double-elimination repechage, Repechage bracket with two third place finishers and Consolation bracket.
In wrestling competitions, firstly single-elimination brackets are used to decide who will play the final round of the competition for the Gold and Silver medal and the repechage bracket is then built by picking up athletes who were eliminated by the finalists and after that wrestlers from the brackets are drawn to each other to decide the Bronze medal winner.
Let us get into some detailed analysis of the rule:
The Wrestling competition consists of the following rounds:
1) Qualification rounds
2) Elimination rounds
3) Repechage rounds
As you can see in the above picture, there were 16 wrestlers in the knock-out rounds and 1 and 16 have advanced to the Final round.
Now according to the Repechage rule, players who were eliminated by the finalists -1 and 16 will be provided another chance to fight for the Bronze among themselves. All of the players who lost to 1 and 16 are put into the Repechage bracket ie. [2,3,5 & 15,13,9] and will be drawn to each other to play the Repechage rounds.
The wrestlers who are in the Repechage bracket are circled in two different colours – Red and Blue. Now the wrestlers with Red circles will play each other while the same will be applied for the Blue circled wrestlers.
Now the matches will be as followed:
Player 2 vs Player 3; suppose 2 wins,
Player 2 vs Player 5;
Whoever wins the match, wins Bronze.
Same thing with the other group of players,
Player 15 vs Player 13; suppose 15 wins,
Player 15 vs Player 9.
Whoever wins the match, wins the second bronze.
Now it is already pretty clear that the closer you lose to the final round the lesser matches you need to play to win the Bronze medal. However, it is certain that anyone who has qualified for the Repechage rounds will have to play at least 2 matches before winning the Bronze medal.
This rule helped Sakshi Malik to win Bronze for India at the Rio Olympics 2016. In the quarter-final stage, Malik lost to Russian wrestler Valeria Koblova, but as her quarterfinal opponent reached the gold medal match, Sakshi reached the Women’s Freestyle 58kg category event’s Repechage rounds and it was just like a second life or a wild card entry for her. But the Rohtak girl tried her best and did everything she could to outplay Orkhon, a Mongolian wrestler. The score was 12-3 and she qualified to play the bronze-medal match.
Sakshi made an unbelievable comeback and won against Kyrgyzstan’s Aisuluu Tynybekova. The 23-year-old Rohtak girl was losing the match by a 0-5 deficit, but her unbelievably high-spirited comeback turned around every probabilistic calculation as she made it 8-5 in the second to win a bronze medal on Wednesday, at the Carioca Arena 2.
Sakshi is not the first Indian wrestler to win the Bronze medal after playing the Repechage rounds, Sushil Kumar and Yogeshwar Dutt have also won Bronze after entering the Repechage rounds in the Beijing and London Olympics respectively.