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World Wrestling Championships: Abhimanyu Loses In Quarter-finals


All four Indian free-style grapplers competing on the opening day of the UWW World Championships lost their respective bouts on Saturday, in a disappointing start to the country’s campaign at the global event, which is also a 2024 Paris Olympic qualification tournament. Only Abhimanyu, in 70kg, showed the determination to slug it out by reaching the quarterfinal before his run was ended by Zain Allen Retherford of the United States. The American, ranked No.2 in the world, secured a 9-2 ‘win by decision’ to advance to the semifinals. Abhimanyu, the bronze-medal winner at the U23 World Championships in June and ranked 26th in the world, had earlier upset Ukrainian world No.7 Ihor Nykyforuk 19-9 by effecting a victory by fall (VFA) before defeating Moldova’s Nicolai Grahmez 13-2 (technical superiority) to secure a place in the quarters.

He, however, ran into Allen Retherford, runner-up at the 2022 World Championships in Belgrade last year, and the Indian was no match for the 28-year-old American.

Abhimanyu was in great form in the first round against the higher-ranked Nykyforuk, finishing the contest in 5 minutes, 41 seconds. The referee stopped the contest 2.41 minutes into the second three-minute session, after Abhimanyu had also dominated the first three-minute session, to take a 5-0 lead.

The other three Indians — Akash Dahiya (61kg), Sandeep Mann (86kg) and Sumit (125kg) — couldn’t progress beyond the pre-quarterfinal stage, with Mann falling in the second round of qualification.

Abhimanyu, Akash and Sumit can still hope to win a bronze medal through the repechage route. The repechage comes into effect for wrestlers who lose in the pre-quarterfinals or later. It allows the wrestlers a chance to revive themselves in the competition if the opponent they lost to reaches the final.

Akash (61kg), despite beginning on a winning note and defeating his Moldovan opponent Leomid Colesnic 10-5, lost his pre-quarterfinal contest to Uzbekistan’s world No.6 Jahongirmirza Turobov.

Akash, ranked 21st here, was no match for Turobov, the gold medallist at the 2021 Asian Championships, with the Ukrainian earning a victory by fall (7-4).

In the 86kg free-style category, Mann got the better of Dejan Mitrov of North Macedonia with a win by technical superiority (10-0), but was no match for Lin Zushen in the second round of qualification losing 0-11, with the referee declaring the Chinese winner on technical superiority with nearly 45 seconds still remaining in the contest.

India’s 125kg grappler Sumit, after an easy first-round qualification contest against Japanese Taiki Yamamoto, whom he beat 3-1, lost his pre-quarterfinal contest to a far superior opponent in Poland’s Robert Baran.

The seventh-seeded Polish wrestler, silver medallist at the European Championships and quarterfinalist at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, was just too good for the Indian, securing a ‘win by decision’ VPO 3-0.

The finals in the four weight categories will be held on Sunday.

India is competing in the Worlds under the United World Wrestling (UWW) flag after the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) was suspended for failing to hold elections in the time-frame given by the world body.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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