Sandeep Tulsi Yadav created history by winning India’s first-ever medal in Greco-Roman at the World Wrestling Championships after beating Serbia’s Aleksandar Maksimovic in the 66kg division here on Sunday, the last day of the meet.
Sandeep overwhelmed the Serbian 4-0 to grab a rare medal after Rajbir Chhikara (74kg) and Naveen (120kg) made first-round exits. Prior to Sandeep’s scintillating effort, India’s best finish in the “classical” style of wrestling was a fifth place by Mukesh Khatri at the 2001 World Championships in the 54kg category. This is India’s best-ever show in the World Championships with three medals after freestyle wrestlers, Amit Kumar Dahiya and Bajrang, won a silver and bronze respectively.
The freestyle wrestlers finished a commendable sixth in the overall team rankings, which also earned the country its maiden berth in the World Cup to be held in March next year.
Sandeep, who lost in the first round in 2011 in Istanbul, Turkey, appeared passive in the first period as the two wrestlers jostled for control and was warned by the referee. The Indian got another warning for passivity and his opponent was given parterre --- ordered hold position given as penalty. But Sandeep, being at a disadvantageous position, resisted well and did not allow Maksimovic to collect points before the first three-minute period ended 0-0.
In the second period, Sandeep got parterre after the Serbian was warned by the referee and the Indian did not disappoint as he executed a back exposure to collect two points.
He then earned another two for counterattack to end the seven-day long championships on a high for India. Earlier, Sandeep produced a spirited performance to reach the quarterfinals where his inspiring run was halted by Han-Su Ryu of South Korea.