Sunil Kumar defeated Azat Salidinov of Kyrgyzstan 5-0 in the 87kg summit bout to win India’s first Greco-Roman gold medal in Asian Wrestling Championships in 27 years.
Sunil Kumar on Tuesday overpowered Azat Salidinov of Kyrgyzstan 5-0 in the 87kg summit bout to win India’s first Greco-Roman gold medal in Asian Wrestling Championships in 27 years.
Entering the gold medal bout after a come-from-behind victory in the semifinal, Kumar comprehensively defeated his opponent in the final of 87kg category at the KD Jadhav Indoor Stadium here.
The last Indian Greco-Roman wrestler to win gold at the Asian Championships was Pappyu Yadav who won the 48 kg title in 1993.
Earlier, Sunil on his way to the final made an impressive comeback in the semi-final bout. He came back from 1-8 down to win the bout 12-8. This was an improvement for Sunil from his 2019 performance in the same tournament where he won silver.
“I am feeling happy to have earned India’s first Gold Medal today. I have worked really hard on my ground techniques and it feels good to have done better than my last year’s performance,” said Sunil.
Arjun Halakurki (55 kg) won bronze after beating Donghyeok Won of Korea. Arjun started the bout slowly and was down by 1-4 in the first period. But he went on to snatch six straight points with a combination of good defence and attack. The final score at the end of the bout was 7-4 in favour of Arjun.
India’s third medal hope Mehar Singh (130 kg) lost his bronze medal bout against Roman Kim of Kyrgyzstan by a narrow scoreline of 2-3. Mehar was suffering from a wrist injury that he picked up in his semi-final bout earlier.
Notably, just three days before the Asian Wrestling, India’s number one in 130 kg, Naveen pulled out of the event due to injury. Mehar Singh replaced Naveen and won his opening bout against Daler Rakhmatov of Uzbekistan.
In the first qualification bout on Tuesday, Sajan — one of India’s big medal hopes — lost in a disappointing manner. He was pitted against Under 23 Asian Champion of 2019 Renat Iliazuulu of Kyrgyzstan in the first round. The Indian wrestler could not match the initial onslaught of Iliazuulu and lost out 6-9.
Sachin Rana (63kg) faced a massive loss against Elmurat Tasmuradov by a margin of 8-0. He was then pitted against Yernur Fidakhmetov of Kazakhstan where he could not muster much of a challenge and went down 6-3 in his Repechage bout.