20 MEDALS FOR INDIAN GRAPPLERS IN 2020 ASIAN WRESTLING CHAMPIONSHIPS
2020 Senior Asian Wrestling Championship held at K D Jadhav Stadium in New Delhi. Traditional powerhouses of Asia, Japan with a total of 16 medals (8-4-4) and Iran bagging 17 medals (7-3-7) finished at first and second position respectively in the overall medals tally. Host India collected the maximum medals and finished third. The Chinese didn’t participate due to coronavirus.
Greco Roman medals spread the maximum joy in the wrestling fraternity. Sunil Kumar’s 87-kg Greco Roman gold was the most inspiring moment of the championship. Son of a small-time farmer from Haryana staved off the challenge from Azat Salidinov of Kyrgyzstan. With a 5-0 score in the final, he wore Gold. It was the first Indian gold in GR since 1993. Pappu Yadav won that time in 48 kgs. In SF, Sunil potted 6 point comeback. Zirakpur native Aditya Kundu could not reach the final. Finally, the 23-year-old civil inspector from Chandigarh earned bronze in 72kg. Ashu was participating in his first senior tournament. The 19-year-old native of Panchi Jattan village of Sonipat overpowered Abdowikarim Mohammad of Syria 8-1 for bronze in 67kg. Hardeep stood at the third spot on the podium. In 97 kg, he earned bronze. Bagalkot native Arjun Halakurki won bronze in 55 kg. Inexperience cost him. In the semis, he suffered a setback as he threw away 6 points lead to Pouya Naserpour of Iran.
The absence of Chinese and North Korean wrestlers and second string wrestlers from Japan impacted the quality of Female wrestling. Most weight categories saw seven or fewer participants. Judges switched to Nordic format for the medal winners.
Divya Kakarn won all four bouts to clinch the first gold for the team. She delivered goods in the final of 68 kg against the Japanese girl.
Pinki muscled out defensive bout 2-1 of the 55 kg category. Sarita had to dig deep for Gold in 59 kg. She managed to do well and turned the table in the final 15 seconds. 3-2 was the scoreline in her favor. For gold, both got the better of Mongolian opponents. Nirmala Devi couldn’t manage pressure. She went down to Miho Igarashi (Japan) in the 50 kg final. Vinesh Phogat could not break her losing streak against Mayu Mukaida of Japan. Vinesh lost QF 2-6 of 53kg. The only consolation was the first point of her nemesis. She ended up winning bronze. Sakshi Malik has to settle for silver in 65kg. Japanese girl was the winner of Gold. Anshu in 57 kgs and Gursharanpreet Kaur added bronze medals from 57 kg and 72 kg.
In men’s freestyle, Ravi Dahiya was the brightest star. He clinched Gold in 57 kg. In 2 minutes 38 seconds, he outmuscled Tajikistan grappler. 2019 World championship bronze medalist won summit clash on technical superiority. In the SF, he faced former world champion Yuki Takahashi of Japan. Indian won 14-5.
Bajrang, the big medal hope for Tokyo, failed to live up to the reputation. Takuto Otoguro of Japan handed him the result of the 2018 world championship final’s clash. He won silver in 65kg. Gaurav Baliyan put up a decent fight before losing the final 7-5. Kyrgyzstan grappler was the winner in 79 kg. Jitender Kumar managed to book a place in the final of 74 kg. He lost to Daniyar Kaisanov. He was a defending champion from Kazakhstan. Satyawrat Kadian could not win the final. Iranian wrestler won the 97 kg summit bout. Favorite Rahul Aware of Maharashtra (61 kg) and Deepak Punia failed to salvage the pride. Both World Championship medalists lost their SF bouts. Finally, they could add bronze medals to the tally.
There were some highs of the tournament. Performance from the Greco Roman division was the silver lining. Swathes of mud pits and mats organize dangals for Freestyle. Greco Roman style has long been considered as outcasts and for failures of freestyle. We hope that five GR medals will change the scenario of Greco Roman for good.
On the other side, all the big names failed to upkeep the winning momentum. In front of the home crowd and weaker opponents, favorites have a chance to come out stronger. Considering the Olympics, worry lines on faces emerged after the championship.
In the end, India finished the championship with 5 gold, 6 silver, and 9 bronze medals. All hope that 20 medals will inspire grapplers for Tokyo 2020.
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