Tokyo Olympics: Indian wrestler Ravi Kumar reaches final
Ravi became only the second Indian wrestler in history to make it to the title round at the Olympics.
Indian grappler Ravi Kumar assured India of at least a silver medal at the Tokyo Olympics when he stormed into the men’s 57kg freestyle final with a ‘victory by fall’ over Kazakhstan’s Nurislam Sanayev in the semifinal on Wednesday.
Ravi became only the second Indian wrestler in history after Sushil Kumar — who had entered the 2012 London Olympics final but ended up winning silver — to make it to the title round at the quadrennial showpiece.
The Indian wrestler, who is making his Olympic debut, will face the Russian Olympic Committee’s (ROC) Zavur Uguev — a two-time world champion — in the final.
The Tokyo Olympic Games Twitter handle ‘#Tokyo2020’ too got into the act of applauding the Indian grappler’s massive achievement, tweeting, “He was 3-9 down, with momentum and time against him. But he still didn’t lose heart and with a couple of amazing offensive moves, pinned down a two-time world championship medallist. Ravi Kumar, you are a champion!”
It was a victory for the ages as the 23-year-old Ravi — who has trained under Satpal Singh at the Chhatrasal Stadium in Delhi since the age of 10 — turned the bout on its head when everything seemed lost for the Indian. In what was a tight start to the contest at the Makuhari Messe Hall in Chiba, Ravi conceded the first points due to a passivity call but roared back instantly with a two-point takedown.
Leading 2-1 heading into the second period, Ravi was dealt a massive blow when the action restarted, as Sanayev got behind the Indian, caught hold of his ankles and twirled him around a few times to flip the score 9-2 in his favour.
The son of a farmer, who has worked all his life on rented paddy fields and would travel 28km every day from Nahri Village to the Chhatrasal Stadium to deliver milk and fruits to his son to supplement Ravi’s diet, did not disappoint his parents.
Desperately looking to turn things around, Ravi made a brilliant comeback by first managing to push Sanayev out of bounds to reduce the deficit to 9-5. The move apparently injured the Kazakh wrestler, but he decided to continue.
With just 50 seconds left on the clock, Ravi scored a two-point takedown and converted it to a pin — exposing both his opponent’s shoulders to the mat — and won the bout by fall.
American grappler David Taylor, meanwhile, proved too strong for Deepak Punia as the Indian lost his 86kg category semifinal bout 10-0.
The 22-year-old Punia will now fight for the bronze medal and his opponent will be known later on Thursday after the repechage.
Punia was no match for the American, who used his superior technique and aggressive play to romp home to a 10-0 win on technical superiority and secure a place in the final.
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