The Indian Greco-Roman wrestlers once again cut a sorry face as none of the five grapplers were able to shine on the opening day of the Asian Wrestling Championships in Almaty on Tuesday. Although Sandeep (55kg) and Gurpreet Singh (77kg) made it to the medal round, they returned empty-handed.
Earlier, during the Asian Qualifiers last week, five Indian Greco-Roman wrestlers lost in the semi-finals. A win in the last-four would have handed them tickets to the Tokyo Olympics. The Asian Championships is not a Tokyo Games qualification event.
Sandeep started with a cautious approach against Kyrgyzstan's Nurmukhammet Abdullaev in his bronze medal bout. He initially stayed in close proximity to his opponent to cancel out any attacking moves. The Indian slowly got into the groove before attempting to down Abdullaev using his shoulders.
But the move backfired as the Kyrgyz wrestler stood firm on his ground, exposing his Indian opponent for the opening points. Abdullaev then added four more points and just when it looked like he would win with a technical superiority, Sandeep countered with a four-point move.
However, Sandeep couldn’t hold onto his momentum and eventually surrendered the tie 5-11. Earlier, Sandeep had won his quarter-final bout against Sajjad Ali Muksr Albidhan of Iraq before losing to Japan's Yu Shiotani in the semi-finals.
Gurpreet Singh loses his bronze medal bout
Gurpreet Singh, who won bronze in the Asian Olympic Qualifiers last week, lost to another Kyrgyzstan opponent Kairatbek Tugolbaev 0-5 in his bronze medal bout. Earlier, Gurpreet had won against Bilan Nalgiev of Uzbekistan before losing to Iranian Pejman Soltanmorad Poshtam in the semi-finals.
In the 63kg category, Neeraj lost to South Korea’s Hanjae Chung in the qualification round, while Sunil Kumar (87kg) was beaten by Rustam Assakalov of Uzbekistan in the quarter-finals. In the 130kg division, Naveen faltered against Uzbekistan’s Sukhrob Fattoev in the quarter-finals.
Among the other Indian Greco-Roman wrestlers - Gyaneder (60kg), Ashu (67kg), Kuldeep Malik (72kg), Harpreet (82kg), Ravi (97kg) will be in action on Wednesday.