India’s Greco-Roman wrestlers bite the dust at World Olympic Qualifiers in Sofia

Putting on an abject spectacle, India’s Greco-Roman wrestlers drew in the world Olympic qualifiers as neither of them could earn a quota for the Tokyo Games here on Saturday.

India’s best chance was with Gurpreet Singh, but he was ousted after losing his 77kg pre-quarter-final in just 48 seconds to 2020 European champion Rafig Huseynov of Azerbaijan.

The speedy Huseynov pulled off a quick four-point move to stun Gurpreet. Before Gurpreet could regroup, the Azerbaijani made another four runs to end the fight in the first half itself.

Gurpeet, who won a bronze medal in the Asian Qualifiers last month, was beaten by Daler Rez Zade of Tajikistan in his opening bout.

All of the Greco-Roman wrestlers fared poorly as none of them could win a fight.

While Sachin Rana lost his first bout to retire from the 60kg competition, Ashu (67kg) squandered the Par Terre position advantage to lose 3-8 to Belarusian Aliaksandr Liavonchyk.

Sunil Kumar missed many chances against Russian Davit Chakvatadze in the 87kg pre-quarterfinal. He was leading 1-0 but did not take advantage of the “Par Terre” by letting the Russian out of the defensive position.

Chakvatadze was tired towards the end but the Indian couldn’t even take advantage of it.

Deepanshu was pinned by Spain’s Jesus Gasca Fresnada as he led 3-7 in his 97kg pre-quarterfinal.

Only the two finalists have obtained a quota for the Tokyo Olympics in this competition.

Overall, India will field its largest contingent of eight wrestlers at the Tokyo Games – four male freestyle wrestlers and as many female wrestlers.

In the last edition in 2016, India fielded seven wrestlers – two male wrestlers, two Greco-Roman wrestlers and three female wrestlers.

Male freestyle wrestlers Sumit Malik (125kg) and Seema Bisla (50kg, women) secured quota places at this event in Sofia.

Before this event, Ravi Dahiya (57 kg), Bajrang Punia (65 kg), Deepak Punia (86 kg) and Vinesh Phogat (53 kg women) had qualified during the 2019 World Championship in Nur Sultan, Kazakhstan.

Young talents Anshu Malik (57 kg) and Sonam Malik (62 kg) also qualified at the Asian qualifiers in Almaty last month.

Robert J. King