Senior National Wrestling C’ship: Amit Dhankar, Mousam Khatri emerge champions

Amit Dhankar takes gold in the 74kg category; Mousam Khatri staves off spirited challenge from Satyawart Kadiyan to take the 97kg gold.

File Photo: Amit Dhankar mixed his aggressive tactics with solid defence en route to his seventh National title in the men’s freestyle competition.   -  Ritu Raj Konwar

Amit Dhankar emerged champion in the 74kg category at Senior National Wrestling Championship here on Sunday.

Dhankar, a former Asian and Commonwealth Champion, mixed his aggressive tactics with solid defence en route to his seventh National title in the men’s freestyle competition. While he stood out with his leg attack till the final, the gold medal bout against SSCB’s Vinod was all about defence; he won 5-1.

Dhankar’s international career never took off due to the pre-eminence of Olympic medallist Yogeshwar Dutt in his weight category. Now, the 31-year-old Dhankar is competing in a category that is dominated by two-time Olympic medallist Sushil Kumar, who skipped the Nationals.

Sushil ‘my idol’

Dhankar said he feels ready to replace Sushil as India’s top wrestler in the category. “I have lot of faith in my defence. I could not do that well in the final. I have beaten him a lot of times but I could not attack. Nevertheless, I am happy with the way I fought in the tournament,” Dhankar said. “Sushil bhai guided me before coming here. He is my idol and I am hopeful he will give me a chance for the World Championship next year. I think I am good enough,” Dhankar added.

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A lot was expected from the young Deepak Punia, who is making a transition from junior to the senior level. However, Punia faded in the semifinals of the 86kg category. Punia, the junior world silver medallist and the junior Asian champion, had a tough first round as he was up against 87kg silver Greco Roman silver medallist Prabhpal Singh.

Deepak Punia won the 86kg category gold. File Photo: PTI


After going past Prabhpal and Bihar’s Ripunjay Yadav, Punia was in a spot; he had conceded two passivity points against Sanjeet. But seconds before time, he got a push-out point to move to the semifinals. Punia was sensationally knocked out by Railways’ Parveen, who pinned him in just 38 seconds. Deepak was trying a shoulder throw, but the move backfired as he could never wriggle out of Parveen’s strong hold.

Gold for Parveen

In the thrilling final, Parveen prevailed 5-2 against Pawan Kumar to take gold in the 86kg category. Parveen took advantage of his height and power before Pawan fought back in the second period.

Punia later claimed a bronze with a 11-0 win over Hitesh in the playoff. Looking ahead, the 19-year-old said he was eyeing a berth in the World Championship to make an attempt at qualification for the Tokyo Olympics.

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The 74kg category has three exciting wrestlers with Praveen Rana, Dhankar and junior Asian Champion Sachin Rathi in the fray. Rathi, a junior world silver medallist, hardly broke a sweat till the quarterfinals; he had got a walkover in the first round, and pinned Pukhraj Yadav in the second. The quarterfinal was a slow affair; Rathi mostly played a waiting game against Mohit. Eventually he won 5-1.

Next up was the in-form Dhankar, who faced stiff resistance from Railways’ Pritam before moving to the quarterfinals. However, he was dominating against Rana, winning 6-1.

Gold for Harphul

In the 65kg category, Indian Air Force’s Harphul Gulia claimed gold with a 10-4 win over Haryana’s Parveen. After a tough start against Vikas, Harphul, who trains under Satpal at Chhatrasal Stadium, was dominant from the quarterfinals. It was Harphul’s second gold at the senior level having triumphed in 2016. “I was desperate to win this gold. I want to focus on international level and qualifying for the Asian Championship is my first target for new season,” he said.

Mausam Khatri claimed the 97kg gold. File Photo: PTI

However, breaking into the international level will not be easy for Harphul since he has to contend with the formidable Bajrang Punia.

In the 61kg final, Railways’ Rahul Aware emerged champion with a dominating win over Goa’s Abhimanyu Yadav. Attacking Abhimanyu’s left leg, Aware took two points with a take down and then applied four straight gut-wrenching moves in a row to finish the bout quickly.

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In one of the most exciting bouts of the day, Haryana’s Mausam Khatri held off a spirited challenge from Satyawart Kadiyan to claim gold in the 97kg. It was one of the better bouts that Mausam has played in recent times. Kadiyan made two brave leg attacks but Mausam, with his solid defence, escaped unscathed.

Overall, the Nationals did not unearth any special talent who could rival the likes of Bajrang and Sushil.

Railways claimed the team title with 163 points; it was followed by SSCB (113) and Haryana (98).

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