Indian Greco-Roman wrestlers miss Tokyo Olympics qualification at Almaty event


None of the six Indian wrestlers in action were able to secure an Olympic quota for the Tokyo 2021 Games even as Ashu and Gupreet Singh won bronze medals at the Asian qualifiers in Almaty, Kazakhstan on Friday.

Only the finalists will earn a place at the Tokyo Games thanks to this event and five Indians lost in the last four stages to miss the chance to qualify on the opening day of the competition.

Much was expected of Sunil Kumar, but the best Greco-Roman wrestler in the country couldn’t make the cut. Competing in the 87 kg category, Asian champion Sunil started his campaign with a 7-0 victory over Kyrgyzstan Sukhrob Abdulkhaev, but lost a difficult semi-final 5-9 to local prospect Nursultan Tursynov , who pulled off a strong winning throw towards the end of the fight. He lost his bronze medal by technical superiority to Masato Sumi of Japan.

Ashu (67 kg) and Gupreet Singh (77 kg) went on to win bronze medals in contrasting fashion.

None of the Indian Greco-Roman wrestlers have qualified for the 2020 Games yet, but three freestyle wrestlers (men) – Bajrang Punia (65 kg), Ravi Dahiya (57 kg) and Deepak Punia (86 kg) – have made the World Cup Championship.

Vinesh Phogat (53 kg) is the only Indian wrestler to qualify for the Games.

Those who miss the opportunity of this event will have one last chance at the World Qualifiers in Sofia, Bulgaria, May 6-9.

Ravi (97 kg) lost his quarter-final but still managed the jump-off for bronze against Korean Seyeol Lee, against whom he lost 1-3.

The women’s competition will take place on Saturday while the men’s freestyle competition is scheduled for Sunday.

Gyanender (60kg) started off by beating Jui Chi Huang of Taipei on technical superiority but lost his semifinal 1-6 to Zholaman Sharshenbekov of Kyrgyzstan. He then lost his 3-4 bronze medal fight to Korean Hanjae Chung.

In 67kg, Ashu won his quarter-final 5-3 against Qiye Tyan but lost the semi-final by technical superiority to Iranian Mohammadreza Abdolhamid Geraei. Putting on a dominant spectacle in the bronze fight against Sheroz Ochilov of Tajikistan, Ashu won 8-1.

Gurpreet started off impressively, winning the 77kg quarter-final against Hyeonwoo Kim of Korea, but lost the semifinal 2-8 against Kyrgyzstan Akzhol Makhmudov. He won bronze when his Palestinian opponent Rabie KA Khalil failed to show up due to injury.

Naveen lost his semifinal 1-7 to Korea’s Minseok Kim and his fight for third place 1-5 to China’s Lingzhe Meng.


Robert J. King