Indian wrestlers fail to book Rio berths on Day 1

Aware (Men’s 57kg Freestyle), veteran wrestler Babita (Women’s 53kg) and Ravinder Khatri (Greco-Roman 85kg) bagged a bronze each in the Asian Olympic Qualification wrestling championship but only the top two finishers could secure Olympic berth for a country.

A file picture of Indiam wrestler Babita Kumari.   -  PTI

Babita Kumari, Rahul Aware and Ravinder Khatri finished with a bronze medal each in their respective weight categories but that was not enough to book Olympic berths on the opening day of the Asian Olympic Qualification wrestling championship here today.

Despite finishing on the podium, they failed to qualify for the Rio Games as only the top two finishers in each weight category here secure Olympic berth for a country.

Aware (Men’s 57kg Freestyle), veteran wrestler Babita (Women’s 53kg) and Ravinder Khatri (Greco-Roman 85kg) bagged a bronze each.

High hopes

There were high hopes from Babita to ensure a quota place for India, but she could not live up to the expectations. Babita began her day on a high, thrashing Kazakhstan’s Zulfiya Yakhyarova on technical superiority 10—0 in her quarterfinal bout but lost to Sumiya Erdenechimeg of Mongolia 8-15 in the semifinals despite putting up a brave fight.

But the 26-year-old did not let the disappointment of losing out on a chance to book an Olympic quota place come in the way during her bronze-medal contest. She managed to prevail over Shinhye Lee of Korea in closely-fought bout for a third-place finish.

Another Indian girl in the fray today — Navjot Kaur— also ended outside the qualification bracket. Although she got the better of Bakhtigul Baltaniyazova of Uzbekistan by Fall verdict 8—0 in the first round and also prevailed in the fifth round over Korea’s Eun Sun Jeong 7-4 by fall verdict again in 69kg, she lost in the other two rounds. In her second and fourth round bouts, Navjot went down to Chen Wen-ling of Chinese Taipei 0-4 and Kazakhstans Elmira Syzdykova 1-8.

Meanwhile, in the third-place bout in men’s 57kg, Aware beat Berdi Atabayev of Turkmenistan 10-0 to clinch the bronze.

Earlier, en-route to his bronze-medal round, Aware had defeated Hikmatullo Vohidov of Tajikistan 16-8 in the quarterfinals before going down to Japan’s Rei Higuchi 0-10 in the semifinal.

Surprise bronze

In Greco-Roman, which is not India’s forte, Ravinder Khatri came up with a surprise, winning the bronze. Although he lost at the quarterfinal stage itself, getting defeated by Zhanarbek Kenzheev of Kyrgyzstan 0—2, he got lucky and made the bronze medal round, thanks to his Kyrgyzstan opponent reaching the final.

He gave his best against Taichi Oka of Japan in the bronze-medal fight and got the better of the Japanese 6—1 to make the podium in 85kg. However, Ravinder was not so lucky as he got defeated in his bronze-medal bout in 59kg.

Despite losing in the quarterfinal to China’s Lumin Wang 0-7, he got an opportunity to fight for the bronze medal, owing to his Chinese rival reaching the final. But Iraq’s Abbas Mkasar Al Bethani proved too strong for the Indian as he won 9-6.

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