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Medal hunt on mat

Such is the level of expectation from Indian wrestlers, that just one gold in a day isn't considered good enough. On Wednesday, the second day of the wrestling competition at the Games, India bagged another rich haul: one gold, one silver and two bronze medals to add to Tuesday's three gold medals. Even then there was a sense of disappointment in the Indian camp. Siddhanth Aney reports

other Updated: Oct 07, 2010 00:39 IST
Siddhanth Aney

Such is the level of expectation from Indian wrestlers, that just one gold in a day isn't considered good enough. On Wednesday, the second day of the wrestling competition at the Games, India bagged another rich haul: one gold, one silver and two bronze medals to add to Tuesday's three gold medals. Even then there was a sense of disappointment in the Indian camp.

The day, however, belonged to Rajender Singh. He was an absolute tour de force on the mat in the 55kg competition and set up a dream final: India versus Pakistan. The stands were almost full by evening as word spread, and the crowd was visibly excited about the archrivals facing off.

As soon as the wrestlers stepped into the mat though, the difference in quality was clear. If the crowd were looking for a keen contest, they certainly didn't find it. Rajender attacked from the start and nailed his rival with two brilliant 5-point throw-downs; one in each round.

"I was always expecting to bag the top spot here. We have worked hard for this, and now that things have worked out, I will go to bed a happy man tonight," Rajender said before trooping off to pick up his medal.

Manoj Kumar faced the tough Agbonavare of Nigeria in the final of the 84kg. The Nigerian had clearly sized Manoj up, and the two spent much of the first round trying to get a strong hold. It was the Nigerian who took the first round with Manoj unable to defend from the danger position. Manoj, however, fought back and took the second. In the third, he ran out of steam and had to settle for the silver.

Sunil Kumar's challenge in the 66kg class came to a premature end because he was unlucky with the draw. In the opening round, he faced Miroslav Dykun of England, who went on to win gold. In the repechage, Sunil displayed his superiority. The Armyman, who became a father less than two weeks ago, took just 49 seconds to dismiss C O'Brien of Australia.

Then as if he was in a hurry, Sunil saw off Hawthorn of England 6-0, 8-0 in less than two minutes. On the verge of tears later on, Sunil said, "I have worked so hard for this, that I am very disappointed at not having won the gold. A medal is always welcome, but I really expected to make it to the final."

Pakistani rival twice.

Jolted by Rajender's lead, Azhar came out on an agressive mood in the second period and even brought blood from his opponent's nose with some dangerous play.

But even a bloody nose could not deter Rajender as he pinned his opponent in the second period to pocket the gold.

Rajender had earlier defeated Sri Lanka's Kumara Yaparathna 14-0 in the qualification round and then outclassed Canadian Promise Mwenga, who won the bronze, 11-0 in the semifinal.

India had on Tuesday bagged three gold medals in the Greco-Roman style with Ravinder Singh (60kg), Sanjay (74kg) and Anil Kumar (96kg) coming out with flying colours.