Aman saves India from embarrassment by locking Paris Games quota, Deepak Punia eliminated

Istanbul, May 11 (PTI) Aman Sehrawat lived up to the high expectations by locking the Paris Olympics quota in the men’s freestyle 57kg category but Deepak Punia was eliminated from the qualification race following his crushing first-round defeat at the World Qualifiers, here Saturday.

Aman, the U23 world champion and also the senior Asian Championship title winner, was expected to put up a strong show and he did not disappoint.

The 20-year-old Aman, who trains at Chhatrasal stadium, got double digit scores in all his three bouts, winning two of them by technical superiority.

He is first Indian male wrestler to secure berth for Paris Games, saving the country from embarrassment of no qualification in men’s section.

Tokyo Olympics silver medallist Ravi Dahiya also competes in 57kg and if WFI holds trials Aman may have to wrestle with him to book his Paris ticket.

Also putting up an impressive show was Sujeet Kalkal, who lost the men’s 65kg semifinal 1-6 to Mongolia’s formidable Tulga Tumur-Ochir, the Asian Games champion and Asian Championship silver medallist.

Before losing, Sujeet, who competes in a category which the celebrated Bajrang Punia had made his own, expectedly put up a fighting show, winning 3-2 against Uzbekistan’s Umidjon Jalolov and followed that up with a technical superiority victory against Korea’s Junsik Yun.

He now needs to win two bouts on Sunday to qualify for the Paris Games.

Aman logged points comfortably in both his bouts, winning 10-4 against Georgi Valentinov Vangelov before overpowering Ukraine’s Andrii Yatsenko.

Yatsenko was quick but Aman proved too strong for him. Locked several times in arm-locks, Aman found ways to attack his rival’s right leg and converted them into take down moves. He won by technical superiority, without conceding a single point against the Ukrainian.

In the all-important bout against North Korea’s Chongsong Han, the Indian wrestler displayed tremendous defense and counter-attacking skills to emerge a comfortable winner with a 12-2 scoreline.

The first period was close and Aman led 3-2 but he gave no chance to Han in the second. Han had got into a strong position when he got hold of Aman’s left leg but the Indian found a way to wriggle out and push his opponent out for a 4-2 lead.

He executed a takedown move and then rolled Han thrice in leg-lace move to end the bout.

Punia (86kg), who had missed a bronze medal at the Tokyo Games by a whisker, bumped into a very powerful Zushen Lin from China in his first bout and ended up losing 4-6 despite taking the lead.

Punia, the most experienced wrestler in the Indian squad, was quick with his attack in the first period, which he ended with a 3-0 cushion.

However, the Chinese turned the tables on the Indian, beginning with a double-leg attack which he converted into a takedown move for two points. He rolled Punia to make it 4-3.

Running out of time, Punia was quick with his moves and looked for a two-pointer near the edge of the circle but the referee awarded a push-out point. The Chinese was still ahead on criteria. He ended Punia hopes with another takedown.

The Chinese later lost his quarterfinal, closing the repechage route for the Indian.

In the 74kg weight class, Jaideep Ahlawat pulled off a stunning four-pointer double-leg attack after trailing 1-3 to win 5-3 against Moldova’s Vasile Diacon and move into the pre-quarterfinals.

He also won his next bout by technical superiority against Austria’s Simon Marchl but lost his quarterfinal tamely 0-3 to Slovakia’s Taimuraz Salkazanov. He remains in contention though. If the Slovakian reaches the final, Jaideep will get a chance via the repechage route.

Earlier in the day, Deepak (97kg) and seasoned Sumit Malik (125kg) lost their first-round bouts.

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