World Wrestling: Gurpreet shows fight, Naveen makes it to repechage

Gurpreet bows out after a spirited show while Naveen makes it to the repechage. 

After two days of below-par performances, the Indian Greco-Roman wrestlers finally produced some quality stuff on the third day of the World Wrestling Championships in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan on Monday.

Gurpreet Singh was in his zone in the opening round, where he registered a 6-0 victory by fall over Michael Wagner of Austria. However, against Viktor Nemes of Serbia, the Indian was somewhat unlucky to lose out 3-1.

Contentious call

Against the bronze medallist from the previous edition, Gurpreet started on the front foot and was soon awarded a point for Nemes’ passive approach. Restarting the bout in an advantageous position, the Indian, however, couldn’t make the most of the upper hand as Nemes wriggled out of danger without conceding a point.

Later, it was the Serbian who won a point for his opponent’s passive style; but Gurpreet was smart enough not to concede more. He managed to escape the lock without being brought down on to the mat.

However, in the final minutes, Nemes lost his balance at the edge of the circle and fell with the Indian on him. The Indians would’ve hoped the referee would hand Gurpreet a point, but the official decided otherwise. While his coach challenged the decision, a failed attempt at the same meant his opponent was awarded a point, and it stayed that way till the final second.

The Serbian, meanwhile, lost his quarterfinal bout to the local hope Askhat Dilmukhamedov, thus ending the Indian’s hope of a repechage on Wednesday.

Still alive

While Gurpeet’s journey came to an end on Tuesday, Naveen, turning out in the 130kg category will still be in contention for a medal and a quota place for the Tokyo Olympics despite losing his opening round to Cuba’s Óscar Pino.

The 2018 Pan-American champion was all over the Indian as he notched up a comfortable 9-0 win by technical superiority to march ahead in the competition. The Cuban was unstoppable on the mat as he reached the final and will now take on reigning European champion Riza Kayaalp for the gold.

Pino’s run at the Worlds also meant Naveen will be thrown in the repechage round and will take on Heiki Nabi of Estonia on Wednesday. A win in the first round would see the Indian line up against Murat Ramonov of Kyrgyzstan next and a win in this would see him seal the Olympic quota for India.

Commendable effort

Meanwhile, the day also saw Manish show his talent in the 60kg category before being ousted in the Round of 16 by Moldova's Victor Ciobanu.

In his opening round against Lauri Maehoenen of Finland, Manish was the better grappler over the two rounds as he overturned a 0-3 deficit with some smart movements to win the bout 11-3 on technical superiority.

However, against Ciobanu, he was in for no such luck as the Moldovan romped home to a comfortable 10-0 win on technical superiority.

Tough road ahead

The day also saw draws for the 50kg, 53kg, 55kg and 72kg women’s wrestling being announced.

While India’s Vinesh Phogat was handed possibly one of the hardest routes to an Olympic quota, let alone the title, the others too were in for a few surprises. 

In her opening round, Phogat will face the bronze medallist from the 2016 Rio Olympics, Sofia Mattsson of Sweden. If she makes it through the opener, the Indian will most likely face the reigning world champion in the 55kg category, Mayu Mukaida of Japan. 

If Phogat gets past the Japanese, waiting for her in the quarterfinals will be the top-ranked wrestler in the category Sarah Hildebrandt of the USA.

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