Asian Wrestling C’ships: Ashu reaps the virtue of early risers in Greco-Roman
Few Greco-Roman wrestlers in India were introduced to the style from their childhood. Most of them give up freestyle. Ashu, however, approached Greco-Roman right away and the virtues of his early departure show in his understanding of its nuances. On Wednesday’s day two of the Asian Wrestling Championships, the 19-year-old won bronze in the 67kg to prepare for qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics next month.
India won two more bronze medals – Aditya Kundu (72 kg) and Hardeep (97 kg) – to take their Greco-Roman medal total to one gold and four bronze, an improvement from the four medals (3 silver, 1 bronze) won at the previous championships in Xi’an, China.
âOur goal was to win six medals. The good thing was that we finally won gold (Sunil Kumar, 87 kg) after 27 years. This coming performance ahead of the Olympic qualifiers next month will boost the team’s confidence, âsaid head coach Hargobind Singh.
It was a dominating sight for Ashu and Kundu in their bouts for the bronze medal. Ashu beat Syrian Abdulkarim Mohammad Al-Hasan 8-1 while Kundu knocked out Japan’s Nao Kusaka 8-0 in the first half. The other bronze was won by Hardeep, who edged Beksultan Shamsiddinov 3-1.
Ashu lost a close semi-final to Makhmud Bakhshilloev of Uzbekistan in the morning. The scores were tied 4-4 at the end of the fight. Makhmud was declared the winner on criteria (four-point shooting). Ashu was leading 0-4 but struggled to get back. With the level of scores, Ashu used all his power to push Makhmud out of the playing area for the winning point but the Uzbek wrestler defended well.
âI was attacking too much. If I had been a little more patient, I could have won. The experience will help me when I compete in the Olympic qualifiers. I want to represent India at the Tokyo Olympics, âhe said.
In his first fight, Ashu beat Fu Hao Lin of Chinese Taipei 10-0 (technical superiority). From the moment he hit the mat, he looked to score against the seed. He quickly took a 4-0 lead, then lifted his opponent and returned him for a four-point throw in the second period.
In 72 kg, Kundu passed the qualifying round, beating Alijon Khuseynov of Uzbekistan 9-1. In the quarter-finals, he beat Tajikistan Amirkhonzoda 9-0 before losing to Kazakhstan Ibragim Magomadov 0-9.
India’s foreign coach Temo Kazarashvili believes Ashu is made for the big stage. âWhen I saw him for the first time at the national trials, I marked him for his strength and courage. He will continue to come to his opponent. In no time, he improved a lot. There isn’t much time left for the Olympic qualification, but we will prepare it well, âsaid the Georgian coach.
Originally from Sonepat, Haryana Ashu trained at the Pratap school in Kharkhoda. He showed promise at the junior level, winning silver at the world sub-juniors and gold at the sub-juniors in Asia. In his first senior international competition, he showed no signs of nervousness.
Kazarashvili, a former world champion who was appointed India coach in February last year, believes India can do much better on the world stage if Greco-Roman wrestlers are more competitive. âThere are two main problems in the Greco-Roman struggle in India. Firstly, it is not practiced in schools or at the local level and therefore most of them come from freestyle. Second, they need to play more tournaments. Now we practice most of the time. To raise the level, they will have to regularly face the best wrestlers in competition, âKazarashvili said.
As most of them are initiated late in Greco-Roman, they are not good in technical aspects and their ground wrestling is weak.
âThey can struggle well in a standing position. They have good power, but they need to improve the wrestling on the ground. You can end a game with one or two good shots, âhe said.
Vinesh-Mukaida face off in the first round
There will be no respite for Asian Games champion Vinesh Phogat, who is drawn to tough rival Mayu Mukaida of Japan in the first round. Phogat lost to Mukaida twice last year, at the World Championships in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan and the Asian Championships in Xi’an, finishing with bronze in both events.
Phogat is seeded fourth and Mukaida third in the 10 women draw. The 53kg competition will take place on Friday.