Road to Rio: Hardeep books Olympics berth in Greco-Roman wrestling with silver - Firstpost
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Road to Rio: Hardeep books Olympics berth in Greco-Roman wrestling with silver


Astana: Hardeep sprang a surprise on Sunday by booking an Olympic quota place for India in Greco-Roman wrestling, which is not the country's forte, after finishing with a silver medal in the 98 kg category on the last day of the Asian Olympic Qualification championship in Astana.

This is the first time that an Indian Greco-Roman wrestler has secured an Olympic berth after 2004 Athens Games, when Mausam Khatri had made the cut.

In fact, in a heavy weight category, this is the first time that an Indian Greco-Roman grappler has ensured a place in the Games.

Overall, three Indian wrestlers have so far qualified for the Olympics – two (Yogeshwra Dutt and Narsingh Yadav) in men's freestyle and one in greco-roman.

Hardeep qualified for Rio Olympics with a silver at Astana. Getty

Hardeep qualified for Rio Olympics with a silver at Astana. Getty

Even before Hardeep clinched the silver, he had qualified for the Olympics by virtue of reaching the final. The top two finishers in each weight category here are assured of a Rio berth.

In the final bout, Hardeep lost on the account of injury default to his opponent Di Xiao of China, and had to be satisfied with a second-place finish.

On his way to final, Hardeep stunned everyone with the ease with which he overcame his rivals.

After thrashing Arslan Saparmammedov of Turkmenistan 11-0 in his quarterfinal bout, he outplayed Margulan Assembekov of Kazakhstan 11-2 in the semis to advance to the gold-medal round.

However, other Indians in the fray today – Vinesh Phogat (women's 48kg), Anita (women's 63kg), Somveer (men's 86kg freestyle), Hitender (men's 125kg freestyle) and Ravinder (Greco-Roman 66kg) failed to book Olympic berth. Even though three of them ended with a bronze medal each.

Out of the 17-member squad competing in this tournament, which concluded today, only two Indians could make the cut for Rio.

Besides Hardeep, another Indian in greco-roman fray on the day, Ravinder, bagged the bronze after defeating Didar Amannazarov of Turkmenistan 10-5 in the third-fourth place play-off.

He had earlier lost 1-11 to Omid Norouzi of Iran in his semifinal bout but had won in quarterfinal round against Roman Tsarev of Kyrgyzstan 2-1

In the women's category, Vinesh was one of the strong contenders in the squad but crumbled under pressure. She came up with a dominating performance in the quarterfinal round, outplaying Thai rival Wasana Junnoi by fall verdict 2-0, but ran out of steam against Kazakhstan's Zhuldyz Eshimova in the closely-fought semifinals, falling 4-5 to lose out on a chance to book an Olympic quota place.

However, Vinesh pulled up her socks during the bronze-medal playoff and overcame a challenge from Uzbekistan's Dauletbike Yakhshimuratova to finish on third position with a 10-0 effort.

Anita suffered the same fate in 63kg. After winning the quarterfinal against Seo Heejeong of Korea 4-2, she went down in the semis to Kazakh wrestler Yekaterina Larionova 2-8. But she managed to beat Nilufar Gadaeva of Uzbekistan 10-0 to settle for the bronze.

In men's freestyle, none of the two Indians competing on the day could even bag a bronze.

While Somveer lost to Kim Gwan-uk of Korea 0-10 in his bronze-medal bout, Hitender had crashed out of the competition in the early stages.

Somveer got the better of Shengfeng Bi of China by fall 8-2 in quarters, but was outplayed in the semis 0-10 by Mongolia's Uitumen Orgodol.

Hitender bowed out early after losing his quarterfinal bout to Aiaal Lazarev of Kyrgyzstan 0-5. He had earlier won the qualification round.

PTI

First Published On : Mar 21, 2016 09:20 IST

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