Star Indian wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt and Hardeep secured Olympic quota places for India in the Asian Olympic Qualification tournament, held in Astana, Kazakhastan, from March 16 to 20. The London Olympics bronze-medallist Yogeshwar Dutt finished on top of the podium after his rival from China Katai Yeerlanbieke forfeited the gold-medal bout in 65kg Freestyle category. Hardeep who clinched the silver, qualified for the Rio Olympics by virtue of reaching the final. The top two finishers in each weight category assured of a Rio berth. Overall, three Indian wrestlers have so far qualified for the Olympics – two (Yogeshwra Dutt and Narsingh Yadav) in men’s Freestyle and one (Hardeep) in Greco-Roman.
The Astana tournament was the second qualifying event for the Rio Games. The first was last year’s World Championship in Las Vegas, where only Narsingh Yadav bagged a quota place for the country in men’s 74kg freestyle.
The 33-year-old Yogeshwar put up a dominating show, winning all his three bouts comfortably. Having beaten Kim Ju-song of North Korea in qualification round 8-1, he got the better of Xuan Dinh Nguyen of Vietnam by fall verdict 12-2 in quarters and then followed it up by beating Lee Seung-Chul of South Korea 7-2 in his semifinal bout. Yogeshwar had won bronze at the last Olympics in men’s 60kg freestyle but since then moved up to 65kg class.
Hardeep sprung a surprise by booking an Olympic quota place for India in Greco-Roman Wrestling, after clinching a silver in the 98kg category.On his way to final, Hardeep stunned every rival with ease. He thrashed Arslan Saparmammedov of Turkmenistan 11-0 in his quarterfinal bout and then outplayed Margulan Assembekov of Kazakhstan 11-2 in the semis to advance to the gold-medal round. In the final bout, he lost on the account of injury default to his opponent Di Xiao of China, and had to be satisfied with a second-place finish.
This was the first time that an Indian Greco-Roman wrestler secured an Olympic berth after the 2004 Athens Games, when Mausam Khatri had made the cut.
The performance of other Indian grapplers was disappointing, however they have bagged seven bronze medals too besides one gold and one silver. Satywart Kadian missed out on a third-place losing to Japan’s Takeshi Yamaguchi 2-3 in his bronze-medal bout in men’s 97kg Freestyle division. In Greco-Roman category, Harpreet (75kg) too missed the bronze medal as he got defeated at the hands Bin Yang of China 2-4 in a closely-fought contest. Naveen lost in the qualification round of 130kg to bow out of the tournament early.
Out of the 17-member squad competing in this tournamentonly two Indians could make the cut for Rio. Hereunder is the performance chart of Indian wrestlers –
|1. Yogeshwar Dutt||65kg Freestyle||gold, won quota place for Rio|
|2. Hardeep||98kg Greco Roman||silver, won quota palce for Rio|
|3. Rahul Aware||57kg Freestyle||bronze, no quota place|
|4. Somveer Kadian||86kg Freestyle||lost in semi finals, no quota place|
|5. Satywart Kadian||97kg Freestyle||lost in semi finals, no quota place|
|6. Hitender||125kg Freestyle||lost in quarter final, no quota place|
|7. Ravinder Singh||59kg Greco Roman||lost in quarter final, no quota place|
|8. Ravinder Singh||66kg Greco Roman||bronze, no quota place|
|9. Harpreet Singh||75kg Greco Roman||lost in quarter final, no quota place|
|10. Ravinder Khatri||85kg Greco Roman||bronze, no quota place|
|11. Naveen Kumar||130kg Greco Roman||lost in qualifying round, no quota place|
|12. Vinesh Phogat||48kg||bronze, no quota place|
|13. Babita Kumari||53kg||bronze, no quota place|
|14. Sakshi Malik||58kg||lost in semi finals, no quota place|
|15. Anita Sheoran||67kg||bronze, no quota place|
|16. Navjot Kaur||69kg||bronze, no quota place|
|17. Kiran||75kg||lost in quarter final, no quota place|
|… by Animesh Khare|