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Wrestling

Ravi Kumar Dahiya falls to the Zavur Uguev hurdle yet again

Ravi Kumar Dahiya fell to a 4-7 defeat to Zavur Uguev in the gold medal match at the Tokyo Olympics.

Ravi Dahiya vs Zavur Uguev at Tokyo Olympics
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Ravi Dahiya vs Zavur Uguev in the 57kg freestyle wrestling final at Tokyo Olympics (Source: Reuters)

By

Abhijit Nair

Updated: 5 Aug 2021 5:37 PM GMT

Zavur Uguev is a two-time wrestling World Champion. He was the second seed going in Men's 57kg weight division going into the Tokyo Olympics.

It was clear that Uguev would be an overwhelming favourite to clinch the coveted Olympic gold much before the Tokyo Games had started; and when 26-year-old made it to the final, the entire world knew Zavur Uguev will walk away with the yellow coloured metal from Tokyo.

The entire world, except Indians.

The Indians were hopeful. They were hopeful that their star, Ravi Kumar Dahiya, will script a miracle at the Makuhari Messe Hall to win India's only second individual Olympic gold medal.

But, hopes and expectations are dangerous. And that's exactly what the Indian sports fans realised as Ravi Kumar Dahiya fell to a 4-7 defeat to Zavur Uguev in the gold medal match at the Tokyo Olympics.

It was not as if the Haryana lad had no chance in the final against Uguev; he had them. But, the Russian was just too hot to handle.

While the fans were hopeful of Dahiya's chances, the pundits were never completely convinced. They knew Zavur Uguev is a better wrestler on all counts and the Indian had lost to him before as well.

It was way back during the 2019 World Championships in Nur Sultan, Kazakhstan. Zavur Uguev was crowned the World Champion for the second consecutive time then.

And no, Ravi Dahiya did not lose in the final like today.

The duo had faced off in the semifinal, and the Indian had fallen prey 4-6 โ€“ a scoreline almost similar as today in the Olympic final.

While Uguev went on to win the gold, Ravi Dahiya defeated Iran's Reza Atrinagarchi 6-3 in the repechage round to take home the bronze and qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

It was a big win for Dahiya. In fact, it was what had shot him to fame back home in India. Before this World Championships bronze, the 23-year-old had just a World U-23 and Junior World Championships silver against his name. Ravi Kumar Dahiya was a rather obscure name in the Indian sporting until this point.

But, things changed soon after his return to India. Expectations from the youngster had grown manifolds. He was included in the country's Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) by the Sports Ministry on return.

Despite all this, Ravi Kumar Dahiya remained unfazed.

He went on to clinch the Asian Championship gold medal in 2020 to establish himself as the best in the continent, before further reiterating it with yet another Asian gold in 2021.

Just in a span of a couple of years, which included the covid-19 forced lockdown period, Ravi Kumar Dahiya was a force to reckon with in the world of wrestling. But, he never faced Zavur Uguev again; not until the Olympic final in Tokyo.

Dahiya had a rather easy run into the Olympic semifinals. The semifinals against Nurislam Sanayev, who shared the bronze with him in the 2019 World Championships, was tough. He was bitten, bruised and had almost lost the semifinal, before turning it around with a sensational pin to force his way into the Olympic final.

The Indian fans were ecstatic on realising that they have an opportunity to win an Olympic gold, but little did they know who their star was running into.

Dahiya gave it his all in the final. He defended, he attacked, he tried all the tricks that one could have on a wrestling mat. Ravi almost had him, but Uguev refused to budge. He stood there like a lock and defended like a certain Tigran Petrosian would do on a chessboard in the dying moments of the bout.

There was nothing Ravi Kumar Dahiya would have done. The Chhatrasal alumni gave it his all, but the Zavur Uguev hurdle was simply impossible to surpass today.


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