It was a day of firsts at the KD Jadhav wrestling arena in the Capital on Tuesday. Greco-Roman wrestling made its Commonwealth Games debut; India bagged its first gold in the discipline (and it's second and third); and Hassene Fkiri of Australia became the first wrestler to be stripped of his medal on disciplinary grounds.
For the most part, it was India's day. In the morning session, all three wrestlers in the fray — Ravinder Singh (60 kg), Sanjay (74 kg) and Anil Kumar (96 kg) — made it through to the finals without too much discomfort. Even though Anil and Sanjay came up against fancied opponents, they sailed through.
Before the finals, Greco-roman coach Hargobind Singh said, "Don't hold me to it, but we will take all three gold." And, as the crowd came in for the evening session, his wards did not disappoint.
Ravinder came out of the blocks on fire. He took a few seconds to size-up Englishman Terrance Bosson, but then went into attach mode. And from the time he did, the result was a foregone conclusion. Ravinder blanked his opponent 7-0, and won the first ever Commonwealth Games Greco-Roman gold.
Counterattacking is something the Indians have been working on over the last few years, and the improvement was clearly visible in Ravinder's technique. He scored all his points from what looked like disadvantageous situations.
Next up was Sanjay in the 74 kilogram category, and he faced the tough South African, Richard Addinall. The bout was defensive, with both wrestlers keen on ensuring that the other didn't get an upper hand. A solitary point in each round though, was enough to ensure that gold number two was in the bag, and the completely partisan crowd in the arena lifted the roof off the stadium. The score may not have been high, but Sanjay didn't give his opponent the slightest scoring chance.
The final bout pitted Anil Kumar against Hassene Fkiri of Australia, in a battle of the big-boys. The fight was ill-tempered, with a little too much slapping and grabbing going on. At the end of the first round, Fkiri lashed out at Anil, earning his first penalty. It was much of the same in the second. As Anil increased the lead, Fkiri kept getting angrier. He picked up two more penalties, which put the bout in India’s lap.