Asian C’ships: Jitender the silver lining on a disappointing final day

If Jitender reaches the gold medal bout in the Olympic qualifiers, it will shut the door on the two-time Olympic medallist Sushil, who has been struggling since the 2018 Asian Games.

Sushil Kumar, who also competes in 74kg, will have to wait and see how Jitender fares in Bishkek where the finalists will qualify for the Tokyo Games.   -  PTI

Jitender Kumar was the silver lining for India on the final day of competition at the Senior Asian Wrestling Championships amidst below-par display from some of the big names in the fray on Sunday. 

India managed to add a lone silver and just two more bronze to its tally. The performances itself, however, left a lot to be desired from all the five Indians in action on the day.  The only Indian to reach the final, Jitender failed to find a way past reigning champion Daniyar Kaisanov of Kazakhstan, losing 1-3 in the 74kg to salvage some pride after World Championships silver-medalist Deepak Punia (86kg) and World and Asian Championships bronze-medalist Rahul Aware (61kg) disappointed on the mat. 

READ: End of the road for Sushil?

Having won his qualifying round easily, Jitender managed to edge past Iranian Mostafa Mohabbali Hosseinkhani on criteria after being tied 2-2 on points in the quarterfinal before winning 2-1 in the semifinals against Sumiyabazar Zandanbud of Mongolia, all three points coming through passivity penalties for the opponent. 

It was, however, a disappointing outing for Punia who appeared completely off-colour in both his morning bouts, losing 1-4 to Shutaro Yamada of Japan in the semifinals. Punia, already qualified for the Olympics, hardly seemed to put in any effort before eventually winning a consolation bronze against Issa Abdulsalam Abdulwahhab Al Obaidi of Iraq 10-0 in under three minutes.  

Aware, though, would be ruing the decision to challenge the referee’s decision at a crucial juncture in his semifinal bout against Ulukbek Zholdoshbekov of Kyrgyzstan. Trailing 0-2 with his opponent under caution for passivity, Aware sought points for what he thought was a scoring exposure move with 45 seconds left on the clock. 

He lost the challenge to concede a  three-point lead and even though he scored a take-down immediately after to narrow the margin, it was enough to make him lose focus and go down 3-5 and miss out on a spot in the final and settle for a bronze, winning 5-2 against Iran’s Majid Almas Dastan.  In the 125kg, Satender Malik failed to impress, going down 1-12 in the repechage round to crash out of the competition.

Satender had replaced original qualifier Sumit Malik in the draw after the latter tore his MCL before the event but appeared out of depth on the mat. Somveer was outclassed 10-0 Ajiniyaz Saparniyazov in the 92kg quarterfinal.

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