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

Seema Bisla added a gold medal to her Olympic qualification, but India’s Greco-Roman wrestlers drew in the World Olympic Qualifiers as neither of them could earn a quota for the Tokyo Games here Saturday. Seema, who secured her Olympic qualification on Friday, won the 50kg gold medal without stepping onto the mat as her Ecuadorian rival, Lucia Yamileth Yepez Guzman, withdrew from the final due to injury.

It is the first international title for Seema, 29, since triumphing at the Yasar Dogu event in July 2019. In the Greco-Roman competition, India’s brightest prospect was 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. Huseynov pulled in 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. Gurpreet, 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. Sachin Rana (60kg) lost his opening bout after falling ill. “He didn’t feel well after the weigh-in. He said he noticed blood in his urine, so we removed him from competition. Health is paramount,” Indian national coach Hargobind Singh told PTI. Ashu (67kg) squandered the Par Terre position advantage to lose 3-8 to Belarusian Aliaksandr Liavonchyk. Sunil Kumar missed many chances against 2016 Olympic champion 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. Hargobind said it was always difficult for Indians to get through this competition given the presence of strong European wrestlers. “Gurpreet’s weight was 30 wrestlers. Greco-Roman is very popular in Europe. They have the advantage of training with strong wrestlers. In the Indian subcontinent, this style is not popular.

We had better chances in Asian qualifying. “Also, there was not enough time to prepare as the national championships were delayed due to the pandemic which resulted in a late selection. We were unable to organize a training trip to the You don’t get good Greek wrestlers in the Indian subcontinent,” Hargobind reasoned. Only the two finalists 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