Best-ever show by Indians at Asian Wrestling meet
Xi’an (China), April 28: India’s Greco-Roman wrestlers finished their campaign on a high with two more medals — a silver through Harpreet Singh (82kg) and a bronze through Gyanender (60kg) — as the Asian Wrestling Championships came to an end here on Sunday.
With three silver and one bronze, India’s Greco-Roman wrestlers bettered their tally of two bronze from the last edition. It was also India’s best ever showing in Greco-Roman discipline so far at the Asian Championships.
After a strong show, Harpreet Singh had to settle for the second-best position to win his first silver after bagging three consecutive bronze from this meet.
In the final, Iran’s Saeid Morad Abdvali, a former world champion and Olympic medallist, never allowed the Indian to settle down, registering a comfortable 8-0 win by technical superiority.
Harpreet had begun his campaign with a 5-1 win over Burgo Beishaliev of Kyrgyzstan in the quarterfinal and continued to shine against China’s Haitao Qian in a commanding 10-1 victory in the semifinal.
“I gave my all but it wasn’t my day, especially against an opponent who is a former world champion and Olympic medallist. I am still happy to have bettered the colour of my medal from last year and hopefully will be able to bring more laurels to India in the future,” Harpreet said after the final.
In 60kg, Gyanender stamped his authority over Taipei’s Jui Chi Huang with a dazzling 9-0 victory to take the bronze. He had earlier beaten Ali Abed Alnaser Ali Abuseif of Jordan 9-1 in the quarters but lost his semifinal bout 0-9 to Islomjon Bakhramov of Uzbekistan. With the Uzbek making it to the final, Gyanender got a chance to contest the bronze medal play-off bout and made the most of it.
In 72kg, Yogesh missed the bronze as he went down 0-8 to Kyrgyzstan’s Ruslan Tsarev. The Indian had lost 0-9 in the quarterfinal to Hujun Zhang but with the Chinese reaching the final, Yogesh got a chance to fight for the bronze.
In 97kg, Hardeep failed to overcome the quarterfinal hurdle, while Ravinder could not make it past the qualification in the 67kg category.
The increase in the medal count this time has reflected the surging confidence levels of India’s Greco-Roman wrestlers after the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) sent them abroad for training. Even though Greco-Roman has not been India’s forte, the country has already taken giant strides to slowly becoming a powerhouse.
The 30-member Indian wrestling contingent thus had an impressive showing at this six-day continental event, winning a total of 1 gold, 6 silver and 9 bronze.
World No. 1 Bajrang Punia (65kg) opened India’s medal rush with a gold while the freestyle wrestlers added 3 silver and 4 bronze. While Amit Dhankar (74kg), Parveen Rana (79kg) and Viky (92kg) had to settle for silver medals, Rahul Aware (61kg), Deepak Punia (86kg), Satyawart Kadian (97kg) and Sumit Malik (125kg) picked up the bronze medals.
Among the women grapplers, Commonwealth and Asian Games gold medallist Vinesh Phogat (53kg) and Rio Olympic bronze medallist Sakshi Malik (62kg) had to be content with the bronze.
Divya Kakran (68kg) and Manju Kumari (59kg) brought home two more bronze to take the women’s wrestlers’ tally to four bronze.
In Greco-Roman, while Gurpreet Singh (77kg), Sunil Kumar (87kg) and Harpreet Singh (82kg) delivered silver medals, Gyanender (60kg) got the solitary bronze.
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