Sumit Malik shone like a bright star on a gloomy day for the Indians as he is just one win away from securing a Tokyo Olympics berth at World Wrestling Olympic Qualifiers in Sofia on Thursday. Sumit (125kg) will be up against Jose Daniel Diaz Robertti of Venezuela in the semifinals.
However, it was all curtains for veteran Amit Dhankar (74kg) and Satyawart Kadian (97kg) at the World Wrestling Olympic Qualifiers, who were ousted in the qualification and quarterfinal rounds respectively on the day. This is also the last chance for all the Indian wrestlers to make the Tokyo Olympics cut.
Sumit, a gold medallist at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, started on a bright note, defeating Aiaal Lazarev of Kyrgyzstan in the qualification round. Although the bout ended 2-2, the Indian went on to pocket the encounter on criteria.
Up against Alexandr Romanov of Moldova in the pre-quarterfinals, the 28-year-old Sumit Malik had to endure a tough time before overpowering his opponent by criteria once again. The bout ended 2-2. Meanwhile, in the quarterfinals, Sumit left no stone unturned.
With Tajikistan’s Rustam Iskandari in opposition, Sumit went into the break with a two-point lead. He returned with a bang, pocketing eight more points. Although Iskandari scored five points in the second round but that wasn’t enough to deny Sumit from entering the World Wrestling Olympic Qualifiers semifinals.
Indian challenge ends in 97kg, 74kg wrestling categories
Meanwhile, it was doomsday for other Indians in the fray at the World Wrestling Olympic Qualifiers. Satyawart, who won his first bout of the day, lost to Bulgarian Ahmed Sultanovich Bataev despite leading in the quarterfinals.
The Indian-led led 5-1 with less than half a minute left. But Satyawart conceded four points towards the end of the bout to eventually lose the encounter on criteria. The bout ended 5-5.
Earlier in the pre-quarterfinals, Satyawart won against Evan Amadour Ramos of Puerto Rico 5-2. Amit, who replaced national champion Sandeep Singh Mann, Narsingh Yadav and Olympic medallist Sushil Kumar, lost in the first round.
Up against Moldova’s Mihail Sava, the Indian succumbed to a 6-9 defeat to bow out of the World Wrestling Olympic Qualifiers. This also left India with no representation in the celebrated category.
Had the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) given two-time Olympic medallist Sushil a chance, India would have got a Tokyo Olympics quota in the category at the World Wrestling Olympic Qualifiers.
Till date, India has six wrestlers qualified for the Tokyo Olympics. They are: Vinesh Phogat (women’s 53kg), Anshu Malik (women’s 57kg), Sonam Malik (women's 62kg), Bajrang Punia (men’s 65kg), Ravi Kumar Dahiya (men’s 57kg) and Deepak Punia (men’s 86 kg).