Iran, a class apart

India's ambitions in the Asian wrestling championship took an inevitable beating, just three months before the first Olympic qualification comes up at the Worlds in the U.S.

KIRTI PATIL

The triumphant Iran team with the trophy. — Pic. SANDEEP SAXENA-

India's ambitions in the Asian wrestling championship took an inevitable beating, just three months before the first Olympic qualification comes up at the Worlds in the U.S.

The qualification race to the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens is fast nearing, but the Indian grapplers seem to be way behind, both in their preparation and the overall strength.

Wrestling powerhouse Iran entered the championship with its second-string team — the top grapplers were left at home to prepare solely for the major events leading to the Olympics. Still, Iran proved too good for the rest, especially in the men's freestyle section.

In the Greco-Roman style, Kazakhstan won in three weight categories, Korea in two and Iran and Uzbekistan one each.

India had its best chance in the women's section, so as we were made to believe. What happened on the mat, specially in the finals, is an easy guess. Japanese women were much superior and far better than the rest. They won five of the seven gold medals, while Mongolia and Kazakhstan had one each.

In the backdrop of the international wrestling body, FILA, winning the consent of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to have women's wrestling included as a medal sport in the Olympics, the New Delhi Asian championship was an apt stage for the women to show their worth. That the Indians failed to strike any gold, parades the emptiness of all the claims, of the much-hyped Olympic gold mission.

In the 2004 Olympic Games, women's competition will have only four weight categories — 48-kg, 55-kg, 63-kg and 72-kg. And if Indian women struggled to win any gold medal even at the continental level, Olympics will definitely be a long shot.

The second-rate performance of the Indian team should put the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) on an alert. But as in the past, the WFI will be happy to bask in the glory of its own twisted explanations.

Over the years, the WFI bosses have shown scant regard for the ground realities. To impress upon the political class, the WFI has been projecting immediate gains, in terms of Olympic medals. What it fails to realise is that Olympic Games are not junior or sub-junior World championships. India has had won handful of medals in these World championships, ostensibly by fielding overaged players.

But when it comes to the senior championships, the same wrestlers gasp for breath, as they did in the 16th Asian championship.

Superheavy freestyle wrestler Palwinder Cheema and the 63-kg woman grappler Geetika Jakhar were found wanting. Tall and heavier Cheema was felled by two-time champion Rezaei Alireza of Iran, in the men's 120-kg freestyle final. Geetika looked all-conquering till she reached the final. Then she ran into a Japanese wrestler. Against Ayako Shoda, Geetika seemed looking for an escape route midway through the first half itself. That she lost to Ayako by `technical fall', just as Cheema lost, underlined India's sorry state in wrestling.

Overall, India finished with 10 medals, four silvers and six bronzes. But for Gurbinder Singh's silver in the 66-kg class, the pathetic show in Greco-Roman continued. In the men's freestyle, Cheema's was the lone silver medal, but there were three bronze medals too. The women had the best collection — two silver and three bronze medals — but one of the silver medal had no meaning.

Japan proved too good in the women's section. — Pic. SANDEEP SAXENA-

In the 67-kg class, there were just two entries, Norie Saito of Japan and Kiran Sihag of India. And in the only bout Kiran contested, she was outmatched by Norie in just 1.49 minutes. Those who won bronze medals, at least won their third place matches to justify the medals.

At the end of it, the championship, being held in the backdrop of SARS virus epidemic that shook the South-East Asia, underlined the supremacy of Iran and the Central Asian countries.

The undisputed champion in 96-kg freestyle class, Hiequri Alireza of Iran, was on show at the soaking and sweltering Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium.

That Hiequri showed no remorse in quashing his opponents till the semifinals, underlines his command over that weight category. In the final, Ibragimov Mogomed of Uzbekistan gave a very minor scare, by taking the fight to full six minutes. Hiequri allowed no points to be scored against him. It was a 6-0 verdict.

Iran's stranglehold on freestyle was broken by Tajik Abdusalomiv Yousup, who won the 74-kg cate<147,2,7>gory. Nevertheless, in the men's freestyle championship, Iran topped with 68 points and India (47) took solace of the second position, thanks to the skewed points counting system.

Japan, which won just one silver medal was third at 36 points but Tajikistan and Uzbekistan who were placed above India and Japan medal-wise, found no position in the team championship.

Same was the case in men's Greco-Roman and women's championship.

Remember, in Olympics it is the colour of the medal that matters.

The results: Men:

Freestyle (final): 55-kg: Mohammad Aslani (Iri) bt Yang Jae Hoon (Kor) 5-3; 60-kg: Mohammadi Seyed Morad (Iri) bt Zakhart Dinov Damir (Uzb) 3-2; 66-kg: Hassan Tahmasbi (Iri) bt Kazuhiko Ikematsu (Jpn) 3-2; 74-kg: Abdusalomiv Yousup (Tjk) bt Ramazan Zadeh Reza (Iri) 6-5; 84-kg: Dorostkar Pejman (Iri) bt Aliev Shahil (Tjk) 3-2; 96-kg: Hiequri Alireza (Iri) bt Ibragimov Mogomed (Uzb) 6-0; 120-kg: Rezaei Alireza (Iri) bt Palwinder Cheema (Ind) TF.

Third place: 55-kg: Kripa Shankar (Ind) bt Bauyezhan Orazhalyev (Kaz) 3-2; 60-kg: Sushil Kumar (Ind) bt Jung Yong (Kor) 10-4; 66-kg: Bayarmagnai Norjia (Mgl) bt Kim Sun Gsil (Kor) 4-1; 74-kg: Sujit Mann (Ind) w.o Gennadiy Lalivev (Kaz); 84-kg: Magdmad Kuzugiyev (Kaz) bt Batbayar Buyandelger (Mgl) 6-1; 96-kg: Nuzhzan Katayev (Kaz) bt Enkhtuya Turskintue (Mgl) 3-0; 120-kg: Mazid Mutaliuov (Kaz) bt Gankhuyag Dorjpalam (Mgl) 3-0.

Semifinals: 60-kg: Morad bt Kumar 3-1; Damir bt Yong 4-2; 66-kg: Tahmasbi bt Gsil 4-2; Ikematsu bt Norjia 4-2; 74-kg: Yousup bt Lalivev 3-1; Zadeh Reza bt Mann 5-2; 84-kg: Shahil bt Buyandelger 3-0; Pejman bt Kuzugiyev 2-1; 96-kg: Alireza bt Katayev 8-3; Mogomed bt Turskintue 3-1.

Greco-Roman (Final): 55-kg: Iman Byevasset (Kaz) bt Bauafa Hamid (Iri) 3-1; 60-kg: Hudoyber Dievasliddin (Uzb) bt Ashkaani Aghbolagh Ali (Iri) 4-2; 66-kg: Zeidvand Parviz (Iri) bt Gurbinder Singh (Ind) 8-1; 74-kg: Choi Duk Hoon (Kor) bt Turdien Jhongir (Uzb) 3-0; 84-kg: Jabrailov Abdulla (Kaz) bt Erofaylov Engeniv (Uzb) fall; 96-kg: Han Tae Young (Kor) bt Hashen Zadeh Masoud (Iri) 3-2; 120-kg: Tsurtsumia Georgiy (Kaz) bt Park Woo (Kor) 5-0.

Third place: 55-kg: Im Da Won (Kor) bt Kqlilovuran (Kgz) 3-0; 60-kg: Kim Bong Suk (Kor) bt Ravinder Kumar (Ind) 3-2; 66-kg: Kanat Begaliev (Kyr) bt Kur Banor Bakhodir (Uzb) 7-4; 74-kg: Rustem Baiseitov (Kaz) bt Pouynaki Mohsen (Iri) 3-1; 84-kg: Marasheian S. Ahmed (Iri) bt Bae Man Ku (Kor) 3-1; 96-kg: Assembekov Margulan (Kaz) bt Yusuke Morikaku (Jpn) 3-0; 120-kg: Gharibi ALiyeza (Iri) bt Virender Singh (Ind) fall.

Semifinals: 74-kg: Jhongir bt Mohsen 4-2; Hoon bt Baiseitov 8-1; 84-kg: Jabrailov bt Marasheian 3-0; Engeniv bt Ku 5-3;

Iran's Rezaei Alireza pins down Palwinder Cheema in the 120-kg freestyle final. It was an easy victory for the Iranian. — Pic. SANDEEP SAXENA-

Women:

Final: 48-kg: Mika Noguchi (Jpn) bt Kao Wei Chien (Tpe) fall; 51-kg: Nonako Hattori (Jpn) bt Emkhjargal Isogtbazar (Mgl) fall; 55-kg: Naidan Otgonjargal (Mgl) bt Sayuvi Tatemoto (Jpn) TF; 59-kg (league): Rena Iwamo (Jpn) bt Alka Tomar (Ind) TF; Myagmar Suren Tumen (Mgl) bt Huang Yu Ning (Tpe) TF; Rena bt Roza (Kaz) fall; Myagmar bt Alka 7-0; Rena bt Ning fall; Alka bt Roza fall; Rena bt Myagmar fall; Huang bt Roza 9-5; Alka bt Huang 12-3; Myagmar bt Roza fall; 63-kg: Ayako Shoda (Jpn) bt Geetika Jakhar (Ind) TF;67-kg: Norie Saito (Jpn) bt Kiran Sihag (Ind) TF.

72-kg (league): Svetlana Yazoshevich (Kaz) bt Burmaa Ochirbat (Mgl) 4-2; Kang Min Jeong (Kor) bt Burmaa fall; Svetlana bt Gursharan Preet (Ind) fall; Kang w.o Ayako Murashima (Jpn); Kang bt Gursharan 3-2; Burmaa bt Ayako 4-2.

Third place:48-kg: Kamini Yadav (Ind) bt Phyam Thimai Phuong (Vie) fall.

51-kg: Renu Bala (Ind) bt Wang Xing (Tpe) 6-1.

55-kg: Lee Na Lae (Kor) bt Madina Kuzmangalyeva (Kaz) 7-0.

63-kg: Hang Jin Young (Kor) bt Rasulova Mursawva (Kgz) 4-2.

Medals tally (gold-silver-bronze):

Men: Freestyle: Iran 6-1-0; Tajikistan 1-1-0; Uzbekistan 0-2-0; India 0-1-3; Korea 0-1-0; Japan 0-1-0; Kazakhstan 0-0-3; Mongolia 0-0-1.

The referee declares Ayako Shoda the winner in the 63-kg event. Ayako had little difficulty in beating Geetika Jakhar of India in the final. — Pic. SANDEEP SAXENA-

Greco-Roman: Kazakhstan 3-0-2; Korea 2-1-2; Iran 1-3-2; Uzbekistan 1-2-0; India 0-1-0; Kyrgyzstan 0-0-1.

Women: Freestyle: Japan 5-1-0; Mongolia 1-2-1; Kazakhstan 1-0-0; India 0-2-3; Korea 0-1-2; Chinese Taipei 0-1-0. (As there were only two entries in 67-kg one bronze medal remained unaccounted).

Team championship:

Men: Freestyle: 1. Iran 68 points; 2. India 47; 3. Japan 36.

Greco-Roman: 1. Iran 60; 2. Kazakhstan 57; 3. Uzbekistan 49.

Women: Freestyle: 1. Japan 65; 2. India 54; 3. Mongolia 37.