Harpal Singh Bedi
New Delhi: Harpreet Singh (82kg) claimed a silver and Gyanender (60kg) bagged a bronze as India’s Greco-Roman wrestlers finished their campaign on a high as the Asian Wrestling Championships concluded at Xi’an, China on Sunday.
With this, India earned three silver and one bronze in Greco-Roman wrestling which bettered their tally of two bronze from the last edition and is their best ever showing in this discipline so far at the Asian Championships.
Harpreet earned his first silver medal after three consecutive bronze from this tournament. In the final, Iran’s Saeid Morad Abdvali, a former world champion and Olympic medallist, never allowed the Indian to settle and registered an 8-0 win by Technical Superiority.
Harpreet had begun his campaign with a 5-1 win over Burgo Beishaliev of Kyrgyzstan in the quarter-finals and continued to shine against China’s Haitao Qian in a commanding 10-1 victory in the semi-finals.
“I gave my all but it wasn’t my day; especially an opponent who is a former world champion and Olympic medallist, was too strong. I am still happy to have bettered the colour of my medal from last year and hopefully will be able to bring more laurels for India in the future,” said Harpreet after the final.
In 60kg, Gyanender overpowered Taipei’s Jui Chi Huang 9-0 result to take the bronze. He had earlier beaten Ali Abed Alnaser Ali Abuseif of Jordan 9-1 in the quarters but lost his semi-final bout 0-9 to Islomjon Bakhramov. With the Uzbek making it to the final, Gyanender got a chance to contest the bronze medal play-off and made the most of it.
In 72kg, Yogesh missed the bronze going down 0-8 to Kyrgyzstan’s Ruslan Tsarev. The Indian had lost his quarter-final 0-9 to Hujun Zhang but with the Chinese reaching the final, Yogesh got to fight for the bronze.
While in 97kg, Hardeep failed to overcome the quarter-final hurdle, Ravinder could not make it past the qualifications in 67kg.
The 30-member Indian wrestling contingent thus had an impressive showing at this six-day continental event, winning a total of 1 gold, 6 silver and 9 bronze.
World No. 1 Bajrang Punia (65kg) opened India’s medal rush with a glittering gold as the freestyle wrestlers added 3 silver and 4 bronze. While Amit Dhankar (74kg), Parveen Rana (79kg) and Viky (92kg) had to settle for silver, Rahul Aware (61kg), Deepak Punia (86kg), Satyawart Kadian (97kg), and Sumit Malik (125kg) picked up the bronze.
Among the women grapplers, Commonwealth and Asian Games gold medallist Vinesh Phogat (53kg) and Rio Olympic bronze medallist Sakshi Malik (62kg) had to be content with the bronze.
Divya Kakran (68kg) and Manju Kumari (59kg) brought home two more bronze to take the women’s wrestlers’ tally to four bronze.
In Greco-Roman, while Gurpreet Singh (77kg), Sunil Kumar (87kg) and Harpreet Singh (82kg) delivered silver medals, Gyanender (60kg) got the solitary bronze. The increase in the medal count this time has reflected the surging confidence levels from India’s Greco-Roman wrestlers after the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) sent them abroad for training. Even though Greco-Roman has not been India’s forte, it has already taken giant strides forward to slowly becoming a powerhouse