Repechage. India has a love affair with the French term that dates back to the Beijing Olympics. It entered our dictionary in 2008 when Sushil Kumar went through three back-to-back repechage bouts to win bronze. Four years later, Yogeshwar Dutt took the same route to win bronze in London. On Wednesday in Rio, Sakshi Malik again made the word famous.
What is repechage and why is the system used in combat sports like wrestling and judo?
Repechage means “fishing out” or “rescuing”.
This is a rule or practice used in competitions to allow a second chance to competitors who miss out on advancing to the medal rounds narrowly. It is predominantly used in combat sports like wrestling, judo and taekwondo, where single elimination brackets are used to determine the finalists. So luck of the draw is a major factor.
How it works
If you are unlucky to draw a top competitor in the initial rounds, a wrestler or judoka will get another shot at glory in repechage. All competitors who lose to the eventual finalists fight in a knockout bracket till the two bronze medallists are decided.
Why it is good
Boxing doesn’t have a repechage bracket. Ask Shiva Thapa and he will tell you how it might have helped him clinch a medal in Rio. Thapa was drawn against Cuba’s Robeisy Ramirez Carrazana, the No 1 in the bantamweight division. He lost in the first round and was out of the competition. If boxing had repechage, he would have got a second chance.
Types of repechage
Full repechage: Followed in wrestling where all competitors who lose to the eventual finalists get a second chance.
Quarterfinal repechage: As the name suggests, it pulls in competitors from the quarterfinal rounds.
Double-elimination repechage: The eventual repechage bracket winner competes against the main-bracket winner to determine the champion.