Much was expected from Sunil Kumar but the country’s top Greco Roman wrestler could not make the cut for the Tokyo Olympics after losing his semi-final at the Asian Qualifiers along with four other Indians, in Almaty, Kazakhstan on Friday.
Only the finalists will earn a place in the Tokyo Games from this event and five Indians lost in the last-four stage to miss the chance on the opening day of the competition.
Competing in the 87kg category, Asian champion Sunil began his campaign with a 7-0 win over Kyrgyzstan’s Sukhrob Abdulkhaev but lost a tough semi-final 5-9 to local hope Nursultan Tursynov, who pulled off solid winning throw towards the end of the bout.
None of India’s Greco Roman wrestlers have qualified for the 2020 Games as yet but three free style wrestlers (men) – Bajrang Punia (65kg), Ravi Dahiya (57kg) and Deepak Punia (86kg) – have made the cut through the World Championship.
Vinesh Phogat (53kg) is the lone Indian woman wrestler to have qualified for the Games.
Gyanender (60kg), Ashu (67kg), Gurpreet Singh (77kg) and Naveen (130kg) lost their respective semi-finals to go out of the race but will fight for bronze medals later in the day.
Ravi (97kg) lost his quarter-final but still made the bronze play-off against Korea’s Seyeol Lee.
The women’s competition will be held on Saturday while the men’s freestyle competition is slated for Sunday.
Gyanender began by beating Taipei’s Jui Chi Huang by technical superiority but lost his semi-final 1-6 to Kyrguszstan’s Zholaman Sharshenbekov. He will now fight for bronze against Korea’s Hanjae Chung.
In 67kg, Ashu won his quarter-final 5-3 against Qiye Tyan but lost the semi-final by technical superiority to Iran’s Mohammadreza Abdolhamid Geraei. He will fight for bronze against Tajikistan’s Sheroz Ochilov.
Gurpreet began in an impressive fashion, winning the 77kg quarter-final against Korea’s Hyeonwoo Kim but lost the semi-final 2-8 to Kyrgyzstan’s Akzhol Makhmudov. He is now up against Palestine’s Rabie KA Khalil.
Naveen lost his semi-final 1-7 to Korea’s Minseok Kim.