Sumit Malik on Thursday became the fourth Indian men’s free style wrestler to qualify for the Tokyo Games when he reached the 125kg summit clash at the World Olympic Qualifiers, here. Sumit joined Ravi Dahiya (57kg), Bajrang Punia (65kg) and Deepak Punia (86kg) in India’s men’s free style squad bound for the Tokyo Olympics.
It is the first time that 28-year-old Malik, who is a 2018 Commonwealth Games gold medallist, has made the cut for the Olympics. The finalists at this competition will qualify for Tokyo Games.
Unlike his previous bouts, Malik was aggressive from the beginning in the all-crucial semifinal, which he won 5-0 against Venezuela’s Jose Daniel Diaz Robertti. However, Amit Dhankar (74kg) and Satywart Kadiyan (97kg) failed to earn a quota after losing at different stages of the competition. In his 125kg Qualification bout against Kyrgyzstan’s Aiaal Lazarev, Malik was trailing 1-2 till the last 25 seconds but got a push-out point towards the end and won on criteria, when the scores were tied at 2-2.
His next bout was against Moldova’s Alexandr Romanov. He trailed 0-1 after losing a point on passivity. In the second period, he lost another point when he was pushed out by his opponent but as has been his strategy — Malik attacks in the closing stage of the bout — he pulled off a two-point throw to make it even and finally won 3-2.
In the quarterfinal against Tajikistan’s Rustam Iskandari, Malik was in trouble at one stage as he trailed 2-4 after leading 2-0 but logged four two-pointers to win easily. On the other hand, Dhankar lost his Qualification bout 6-9 to Moldova’s Mihail Sava. After trailing 0-4, Dhankar put up a spirited fight in the second period, but the Moldovan was up to the task.
Dhankar’s defeat means that India will go unrepresented in the 74kg at the Tokyo Games. Kadiyan won his pre-quarterfinal 5-2 against Evan Amadour Ramos from Puerto Rico. He led 3-0 in the first period, but a take-down move by his rival threatened his chances before the Indian got another two-pointer to win easily.
In the quarterfinal against Bulgaria’s Ahmed Sultanovich Bataev, Kadian blew away a 5-1 lead to go out of the competition as he lost the bout on criteria, conceding four points in the last 20 seconds. Kadian trailed after the first period, losing the point on passivity. In the second period, he scored five points in a row, starting with passivity point and followed that up with two push-outs and a two-point throw.
However, the Bulgarian turned the tide in his favour with consecutive take down to stun the Indian camp.