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Tokyo 2020

How wrestler Sumit Malik qualified for the Tokyo Olympics with an injury

Sumit Malik became the seventh Indian wrestler to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics on Thursday, when he reached the final of the Men’s 125kg Freestyle at the ongoing World Wrestling Olympic qualifiers in Sofia.

How wrestler Sumit Malik qualified for the Tokyo Olympics with an injury
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By

Abhijit Nair

Published: 8 May 2021 6:12 AM GMT

Sumit Malik became the seventh Indian wrestler to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics on Thursday, when he reached the final of the Men's 125kg Freestyle at the ongoing World Wrestling Olympic qualifiers in Sofia, Bulgaria.

The 28-year-old's qualification to his first-ever Olympics was not an easy one by any means. It is the result of years of constant hard work and sheer determination.

Hailing from a village in the Rohtak district of Haryana, Sumit lost his mother pretty early in his life. He was raised up by his maternal grandparents in Delhi – the city where he was introduced to wrestling.

Sumit was drawn towards wrestling by watching his maternal uncle who was a wrestler at the famous Chhatrasal Stadium, and took up the sport when he was 13 years old.

He rose to national prominence during the years 2017 and 2018 when he clinched multiple international medals including a gold at the 2018 Commonwealth Games at Gold Coast and a silver at the 2017 Asian Wrestling Championships at Delhi.



Tokyo Olympics qualification

Sumit was on the verge of earning a Tokyo slot during the Asian qualifiers at Almaty last month, but faltered in the semifinal. But, what is to be noted here is that the grappler was fighting on painkillers at Almaty.

He played through the injury in the Asian Championships which followed as well, and did extremely well to reach the quarterfinals.

But, the World Qualifiers in Sofia was a different ball-game altogether. It was his last chance to earn his berth at the Tokyo. He was still injured, only that his injury was much worse this time.

Even before entering the Sofia event, Sumit knew he could aggravate his knee if he played. But he did not care!

The movement of his lower body was largely restricted due to his injured knee. To qualify for the Olympics all Sumit had was his upper-body strength. And boy, he delivered!

Yes, only two of the World's top 20 in the 125kg weight division were competing in at Sofia, but Sumit displayed some fantastic wrestling throughout.

He registered four consecutive wins, starting from the pre-quarterfinals, to reach the final of his event and qualify for the Tokyo Olympics.

Up against Sergei Kozyrev of Russia in the final, Sumit withdrew. He knew he has achieved what he had set out for. He had bagged an Olympic slot and now is the time to give some rest to that dodgy knee.


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