Tokyo Olympics 2020: Indian wrestlers who've qualified so far
Wrestling has always been an integral part of India's Olympics plan. We have a lot of potential and great talent with promising futures.
Already 4 Indian's have qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. They are Ravi Kumar, Vinesh Phogat, Bajrang Punia and Deepak Punia.
All these four athletes have been doing extremely well of late and their chances of winning a medal at the upcoming Olympics looks quite bright.
The World Wrestling Championship that was held in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan last September served as a tournament for the 2020 Olympic qualification.
Deepak Punia who was already the reigning Junior World Champion, marched straight into the finals of the Senior World Championships in the 86kg category. He secured the silver medal as he had to withdraw the match due to a leg injury.
Another Indian wrestler worthy of a mention here is Rahul Aware. At the World Championships, he reached the semi-finals but of the 61kgs category. This category is a non-Olympic category.
As for Ravi Kumar, Vinesh Phogat and Bajrang Punia, they secured the bronze medal in their respective categories and hence sealed their spot in the Olympic.
Let's take a closer look at our fantastic four qualifiers.
The last Olympics was quite a tragedy for Vinesh. Sadly, her journey ended at the quarter-finals as she suffered an injury and was taken off the ground on a stretcher.
This injury was not going to let her down. Soon after recovery, Vinesh has been preparing extremely well for Tokyo 2020. She was so close to tasting victory last time and this time she's going to be a force to reckon with.
In 2018, she won two gold medals in the 50kg category at the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games respectively. It was only a few months later that she decided to shift to the 53kgs category.
Surprisingly, this shift in the category was quite easy for Vinesh. She settled in extremely well.
In 2019, she claimed the bronze medal at the Asian Wrestling Championships and even won a couple of gold medals in other prominent international events.
She was the first Indian to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Her chances of winning a medal at the Olympics seem very promising.
#2. Ravi Kumar
Ravi Kumar Dhaiya, who is competing in the in 57 kgs category, secured a bronze medal in his very first World Wrestling Championship. He dominated over Reza Atri Nagarchi of Iran who was a former Asian Champion, by a score of 6-3.
Even though Ravi Kumar is a man of few words, he is a man of great talent and skill. He lets his body do all the talking when he is in the wrestling arena.
His win against Japanese Yuki Takahashi is the one that gave him a ticket to the Olympics.
In 2015, he won a silver medal at the U-23 World Championships. Ravi Kumar is an extremely fierce competitor who gives India hope of a medal in wrestling.
#3. Bajrang Punia
Apparently, in 2016, during the Rio Olympics, Bajrang Punia decided to opt-out of participating as it was his idol, Yogeshwar Dutt's last appearance at the Olympics.
Yogeshwar Dutt too was in the 65kgs category. Bajrang, who looked up to him so deeply, didn't want to stand in his way of a possible medal.
Unfortunately, Yogeshwar lost in the early stages of the Olympics. He appreciated the kind gesture by Bajrang and repaid him by offering his expertise and mentorship.
The two have worked together ever since and the results are clear. From 2017 one can see the incline in Bajrang's performance. He bagged the gold medal at the Asian Wrestling Championships.
2018 ended on a high for him. He clinched a gold at the Commonwealth Games as well as the Asian Championships. Last year he secured his spot in the Olympics by winning the silver medal at the Asian Wrestling Championships.
But after securing his spot at the prestigious Olympics, his go-getter attitude has not changed whatsoever. This year he went on to win the gold medal at the Rome Ranking Series.
If all goes well, he has a real shot at contributing to India's Olympic medal tally.
#4. Deepak Punia
Deepak Punia became the 4th Indian to qualify for the Olympics. At the wrestling World Championship, he defeated Columbia's Carlos Mendez in the quarter-finals to secure a spot in the Olympics.
He was first down at 0-3, but he powered through knowing what was at stake. He bounced back to take the game 7-6. He went on to reach the finals against Iran's Hassan Yazdani.
Unfortunately, due to an injury, he had to give up the match before it began and settle for silver. Who knows, he could've even clinched gold in his category (86kgs).
Interestingly, Deepak was the only Indian to reach the finals of the 86kgs category.
Even after this setback, Deepak kept a positive attitude. He had explained how he was happy with his performance and would work hard and strive to win a medal at the Olympics.
With that being said, we wish him the very best of luck!
Published 10 Feb 2020, 22:14 IST