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Hussain wins Pakistan's first wrestling gold for 40 years

Pakistan took their first Commonwealth Games wrestling titles for 40 years on Sunday, winning two golds and spoiling India's party in the final session of the tournament.

other Updated: Oct 10, 2010 20:26 IST

Pakistan took their first Commonwealth Games wrestling titles for 40 years on Sunday, winning two golds and spoiling India's party in the final session of the tournament.

India started the day hoping for a sweep of gold medals but were thwarted by their arch-rivals who notched up defeats against the hosts in a quarterfinal and final.

With India edging just ahead of England on 26 golds to 24 going into the evening session, every takedown became a matter of national pride as three unrelated Kumars -- Sushil, Anuj, Joginder -- vied for glory.

But it was clear India were not going to have it all their own way when Pakistan's Azhar Hussain defeated another Kumar, Anil in a tense quarterfinal battle in the 55kg.

Hussain gave an impressive performance of clever footwork and brute strength to take Nigerian Ebikewenimo Welson out by a fall in the second session of the 55kg freestyle final.

"We don't have the proper Greco-Roman coaches, but still we went for it and for the country's sake we got the silver in the Greco-Roman and now gold in the freestyle catergory as well," Pakistan's head freestyle coach MH Omar said.

His team had not taken a Games wrestling title since they won four golds in Edinburgh 1970 but the wait was to be shorter this time with Muhammad Inam gving Pakistan a second gold within an hour.

Inam was overpowered by India's Anuj Kumar in the first session but, spurred on by Hussain's victory, found the inspiration to overcome the favourite and the chants of a partisan home crowd to win the next two sessions.

"It's a dream come true to win for my country in wrestling," Inam said.

"Two gold medals in one day is the result of the hard work that the wrestling association in Pakistan has given us."

"I was feeling very proud when the Pakistani national anthem was being played and the Pakistan flag was being raised in Delhi."

Indian world champion Sushil Kumar proved to be the shining light for the hosts.

India's latest posterboy, one of the nation's best medal hopes after winning the world championships in Moscow last month, treated his fans to an emphatic victory over South African Heinrich Barnes in the 66kg final.

"You have no idea with all the expectations riding on me and competing in my home country and winning gold -- it is the best feeling I ever had," he said.

"This gold is the result of my audience's love and my own determination."

Kumar pinned Barnes to the mat in the second session to close out the final 7-0.

The victory capped a formidable day's wrestling for Kumar during which he managed not to concede a single point, breezing through his first two matches before winning his semifinal in just nine seconds with the first move of the match.

India are the first nation to win 10 gold medals in wrestling at a single Games while Barnes' silver was the 10th for South Africa across all sports.

Canadian Arjan Bhullar added more disappontment for India, defeating Joginder Kumar in the 120kg final with the Indian complaining that he lost because he was too sweaty.

"I wanted to start the first period in a more defensive way and wanted to attack in the second but once I started sweating I was unable to grab him," he said. "My hands were all slippery at that time, that's why my plan failed."

First Published: Oct 10, 2010 20:18 IST