Seema Bisla added a gold medal to her Olympic qualification but India's Greco Roman wrestlers drew a blank at the World Olympic Qualifiers as none of them could earn a Tokyo Games quota, here on Saturday. Seema, who secured her Olympic qualification on Friday, took the 50kg gold without getting on mat as her rival from Ecuador, Lucia Yamileth Yepez Guzman withdrew from the final due an injury.
It is first international title for 29-year-old Seema since she triumphed at the Yasar Dogu event in July 2019. In the Greco Roman competition, India's brightest hope was Gurpreet Singh but he was ousted after losing his 77kg pre-quarterfinal in just 48 seconds to 2020 European champion Rafig Huseynov from Azerbaijan. Huseynov pulled off a quick four-point move to stun Gurpreet. Before Gurpreet could regroup, the Azerbaijani effected another four-pointer to end the bout in the first period itself. Gurpreet, who had won a bronze medal at last month's Asian Qualifiers, had got a walkover from Tajikistan's Daler Rez Zade in his opening bout.
All Greco Roman wrestlers cut a sorry figure as none of them could win a bout. Sachin Rana (60kg) forfeited his opening bout after falling sick. "He was feeling unwell after weigh-in. He said he noticed blood in his urine, so we withdrew him from the competition. Health is paramount," India's national coach Hargobind Singh told PTI. Ashu (67kg) squandered 'Par Terre' position advantage to lose 3-8 against Aliaksandr Liavonchyk of Belarus. Sunil Kumar missed chances aplenty against 2016 Olympic champion Davit Chakvatadze in the 87kg pre-quarterfinal.
He was up 1-0 but did not take advantage of the 'Par Terre' as he let the Russian get out of the defensive position. Chakvatadze was tired towards the ends but the Indian could not take advantage of even that. Deepanshu was pinned by Spain's Jesus Gasca Fresnada when he was trailing 3-7 in his 97kg pre-quarterfinal. Hargobind said it was always difficult for Indians to get through this competition, considering presence of strong Europeans wrestlers. "Gurpreet's weight had 30 wrestlers. Greco Roman is very popular in Europe. They have advantage of sparring with strong wrestlers. In Indian sub-continent, this style is not popular.
We had better chance at Asian Qualifier. "Also, there was not enough time to prepare because the Nationals were delayed due to the pandemic which resulted in late selection. We could not arrange a training trip abroad. You don't get good Greco wrestlers in Indian sub-continent," Hargobind reasoned. Only the two finalists were given Tokyo Olympics quota in this competition. Overall, India will field its biggest ever contingent of eight wrestlers at the Tokyo Games -- four men's free style wrestlers and as many women wrestlers. In the last edition in 2016, India had fielded seven wrestlers -- two men's free style, two Greco Roman and three women wrestlers.
Men's free style wrestler Sumit Malik (125kg) and Seema Bisla (50kg, women) earned quotas from this event in Sofia. Before this event, Ravi Dahiya (57kg), Bajrang Punia (65kg), Deepak Punia (86kg) and Vinesh Phogat (women's 53kg) had qualified through the 2019 World Championship in Nur Sultan, Kazakhstan. Young guns Anshu Malik (57kg) and Sonam Malik (62kg) had also qualified through the Asian Qualifier in Almaty, last month.