New Delhi, Feb 19: Indian grapplers produced their best-ever haul in the Greco-Roman as they finished with a gold and four bronze medals in the ongoing Asian Wrestling Championships here on Wednesday (February 19).
On day two of the championships, Ashu, Aditya Kundu and Hardeep won a bronze medal each in their respective weight categories at KD Jadhav Hall in Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium. While Gyanender was the only grappler to lose in the bronze medal round as he went 0-6 down to Uzbekistan's Islomjon Brakhramov in the first bout of the evening.
While Ashu won a bronze in 67kg category, Aditya and Hardeep also bagged the medals of the same colour in the 72kg and 97kg respectively. Ashu overpowered Syria's Abdulkarim Mohammad Al-Hasan 8-1 in a largely one-sided contest while Kundu thrashed Nao Kusaka of Japan 8-0 in just one minute and 27 seconds in a lop-sided 72kg bronze medal bout.
Later in the evening, Hardeep beat Kyrgyzstan's Beksultan Makhamadzhanovich Makhmudov 3-1 to register India's third podium finish of the day. India has so far five medals in the championships, after Sunil Kumar's historic gold in 87kg and Arjun Halakurki's bronze in 55kg Greco-Roman category on Tuesday.
"It feels great to earn a Bronze medal in my first-ever senior championship. I lost my semi-final bout as I took the attacking approach pretty early which backfired. I worked upon in this bout with more emphasis on my defence and that strategy worked in my favour. I am happy that things panned out as planned," an elated 19-year-old wrestler from Haryana told media persons after his win.
Ashu, who hails from a farmer's family in Sonipat, has also won three medals at the junior level. He even has an international gold at sub-junior level.
Talking about the difference between junior and senior level, Ashu said, "There is a lot of difference but all you need is work hard. Progression from junior to senior level will be easier if an athlete shows maturity and learns from the mistakes he committed."
On the other hand, this was Aditya's first Asian Championship and his second ever international tournament. Aditya who will now focus on his Olympics qualification will aim to reduce his weight to 67kg to be able to compete at the Tokyo Olympics later this year.
"I was confident of winning a medal because the training was going well and the coaches also prepared us well for the competition. But I am disappointed at the same time as I lost out on my gold medal else the colour of the medal would have been different. Nevertheless, I am happy I could play as per my strategy in this game and win the bout," he said, after winning the match on technical superiority.
While reflecting upon his loss game in the semi-finals, the 23-year-old said he should have initially focussed on strengthening his defence instead of attacking from the word go.
"Indian wrestler's strategy is to tire the opponent because we are the best when it comes to endurance. But I failed to execute my strategy to perfection in that game and which cost me dearly. In the bronze medal bout my first priority was to tire the opponent and use my techniques."
Hardeep, who clinched India's third and final bronze medal of the day, said he will keep on working on-ground technique. "I was worried at one point when I was supposed to be on the ground as it is a weakness that I have been working upon. In the end, I was able to maintain my cool and hold the opponent off with a strong defensive strategy," he said.
While talking to media persons after Indian grapplers, national coach Hargobind Singh said they are happy with the overall performance as they've produced best-ever haul in the Greco-Roman this year.
"We are extremely happy with the performance of our boys. We have finished with a gold and four bronze medals which is our best-ever show in the championships. The boys committed some mistakes during the semi-finals, else the result would have been much better. But overall we are happy with the performance."
India's foreign coach Temo Kasarashvili also seemed optimistic with grapplers good show in New Delhi.
Kasarashvili, a former two-time world champion wrestler, while talking to media persons said, "Possibly we'll get next time two gold medals in Asian Games. Maybe two can qualify for the Olympics. There are big wrestling countries. India is not a big wrestling country in Greco Roman so they have a long way to go."
Meanwhile, Kenichiro Fumita of Japan beat Kyrgyzstan's Zholaman Sharshenkov 4-0 to win the gold medal in the 60 kg category. The other bronze in 60kg was won by Mehdi Seifollah Mohsen Nejad who beat Kazakhstan's Aidos Sultangali 4-3.
The other bronze in the 67kg category was won by Iran's Hossein Nasrollah Assadi Kolmati, who beat Japan's Tsuchika Shimoyamada 5-3, while the gold medal went to Korea's Hansu Ryu, who defeated Uzbekistan's Makhmud Bakhshilloev 4-1.
In the 72kg category, besides Aditya, Ruslan Tsare of Kyrgyzstan won another bronze, beating Chinese Taipe's Yan Kai Chen 8-0. The gold in this weight division was won by Amin Yavar Kaviyaninejad of Iran with a 8-0 win over Ibragim Magomadoc of Kazakhstan.
In the 97kg weight division, Uzbekistan's Muhammadali Shamsiddinov got the better of Thailand's Ponlawat Saimmai inside 20 seconds to win the other bronze with a 4-0 scoreline. The gold in this category was bagged by Mohammadhadi Abdollah Saravi of Iran, who defeated Seyeol Lee of Korea.