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Tue, 21 Aug 2018

Northeast Today

Rathi and Punia Wins Gold at Junior Asian Wrestling Championships

Rathi and Punia Wins Gold at Junior Asian Wrestling Championships
July 23
01:58 2018

Last year, Sachin Rathi participated in his first ever senior nationals in Indore. Though he did not win a medal, Rathi was in the news as one of the wrestlers who gave Sushil Kumar a walkover as the two-time Olympic medallist won the gold. Rathi did not imagine that his debut will be remembered for a bout he did not even fight.

So when he got the chance to wrestle once again in front of a home crowd in New Delhi on Sunday, he wanted to be known as the champion. At the Junior Asian Wrestling Championships, Rathi was competing in the 74kg category, the same class in which he gave Sushil a walkover. He made the evening a special one, ending the gold drought for India in the freestyle competition. “I was confident to win the bout. Even though I was trailing in the final, I knew I had it in me to beat the Mongolian wrestler. The crowd was cheering in the stands and makes a lot of difference for a wrestler. My semifinal was more difficult and when I won that, I knew I can become the champion,” Rathi said.

Trailing 2-5 after the first period, Rathi had all but lost the final when Bat-Erdene Byambasuren got four more points. But the 20-year-old Indian reversed an attack by his opponent to get two more points. He managed to pin his opponent on that attack to capture the first gold for India.

“What makes him so different is that he is always looking to attack the opponent. Even in the final, he was the one who attacked but gave up points. But he still went for the attacks and continued to gain points and finally got the pin. It’s better to be aggressive than passive and then giving up points. You have a better chance of winning when you are aggressive,” India coach Parvesh Mann said.

India won the second gold as well but that came in a completely contrasting manner. Deepak Punia, last year’s junior Asian silver medalist, changed the colour of his medal on Sunday with a dominant win via technical superiority over Turkmenistan’s Azat Gajyyev. The gold medals, alongwith the bronze medals won by Suraj Kokate and Mohit Grewal gave India second position in the team rankings behind Iran. Punia began with a hard-fought win over Iran’s Seyedsajjad Seyedmehdi Seydi in the qualification round. Thereafter, it was a stroll in the park for the former cadet world champion as he dominated the field in the 86kg category. “I have the experience of wrestling in various international competitions and even the senior nationals which helped me a lot to win the medal here. Having trained as Chhatrasal Stadium, this was a great win in front of the people who came to watch from the stadium and my village in Jhajjar district,” Punia said.

Both Rathi and Punia put on a great exhibition of freestyle wrestling. The former saw off Ali Bakhtiar Savadrouhi of Iran in the semi-final with a 2-0 win, displaying great defence. He dominated his earlier bouts, beating Chiranuwat Chamnanjan and Bekzhan Kamchybekov in the qualification round and quarter-final respectively. Punia, meanwhile, gave no chance to any of his opponents. Daniyar Meldebek of Kazakhstan was the first to suffer a defeat via technical superiority followed by Kairi Yagi of Japan.

- The Indian Express, Vinay Siwach

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