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SportOther SportsTokyo Olympics: Medal assured as wrestler Ravi Dahiya storms into finals

Tokyo Olympics: Medal assured as wrestler Ravi Dahiya storms into finals

Published: 4th Aug 2021 3:08 pm

Tokyo: Ravi Dahiya on Wednesday became only the second Indian wrestler to qualify for the title clash at the Olympic Games, when he sensationally turned around the 57kg semifinal bout by pinning Kazakhstan’s Nurislam Sanayev but Deepak Punia was left to fight for bronze medal after he lost his semifinal, here on Wednesday. Before Dahiya, a son of a farmer from Haryana, Sushil Kumar was the only Indian to make the gold medal bout at the 2012 Olympics in London where he had settled for a silver.

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The fourth seeded Dahiya trailed 2-9 after Sanayev effected a few ‘fitley’ (leg lace) but as the clocked ticked away, Dahiya regrouped and got hold of his rival with a double leg attack that resulted in a ‘victory by fall’. “I had no business conceding that much lead against Sanayev. I am not happy with it,” Dahiya said when asked about his inspiring achievement. It just shows the kind of standards the Indian from Nahri village in Haryana has set for himself.

“I have beaten Sanayev twice before, so I knew I can pull it off despite trailing by a huge margin. I was assured inside, but I should not have conceded lead and made it a close fight. That was pretty bad of me,” he said. “I still have some unfinished business to do. I came with a target here and that is not complete yet (winning gold).”

In the final on Thursday, Dahiya will face reigning world champion Russian Zavur Uguev to whom he had lost in the 2019 World Championship semifinals.

Despite a huge deficit, the 23-year-old Dahiya did not panic, showing tremendous mental strength and dramatically turned the bout in his favour. After the end of the first period, Dahiya had a 2-1 lead but Sanayev came prepared and attacked the Indian’s left leg, got a good grip and turned him thrice to log six points in a jiffy.

Suddenly, Dahiya’s lead was gone and he was staring at a defeat but his superior stamina and technical prowess was still at work. The remaining one minute was enough for him to turn the tide and he did it in style. He got hold of Sanayev with a double leg attack and then gripped him tightly with the Kazakhstan wrestler’s back on the mat and finished the bout with a mighty ‘pin’.

A dominant Dahiya had won both his previous contests on technical superiority en route the final. Dahiya outclassed Colombia’s Tigreros Urbano (13-2) in his opener and then outwitted Bulgaria’s Georgi Valentinov Vangelov (14-4).

While Dahiya was a live-wire on the mat, Deepak Punia (86kg) made good use of a favourable draw to reach the semifinals but lost to the formidable American David Morris Taylor. He will now fight for bronze on Thursday against the winner of the repechage round between Myles Amine and Ali Shabanau. It was always going to be a herculean task for Deepak to trouble the American, the 2018 world champion and the reigning Pan-American champion.

The 22-year-old Deepak had earlier got past Nigeria’s Ekerekeme Agiomor, the African championship bronze medallist by technical superiority and then prevailed 6-3 over China’s Zushen Lin in the quarterfinal.

Anshu Malik, on the other hand, lost her opening 57kg bout to European champion Irina Kurachikina but since the Belarus wrestler has reached the final, the 19-year old Indian has got a second chance to be in medal round. She will now compete in the repechage round on Thursday and if she wins, she will also fight for bronze.

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