Wrestler Amit Kumar’s bid for an Olympic medal in the men’s freestyle 55 kg section ended as he lost in the second round of repechage at the ExCel Arena here on Friday.
The 18-year-old lost to former world champion and Beijing bronze medallist Radoslav Marinov Velikov of Bulgaria in two straight periods. The talented Indian lad was a bit unlucky as his opponent got the ‘clinch’ both the times in the ‘sudden death’ tie-break and capitalised on it quickly.
It was tough to get out of the ‘clinch’ and 99 per cent of the time the wrestler who gets the toss in his favour wins the period. Of course, Sushil Kumar had defied that as he became a member of the one percent club when he got out of the ‘clinch’ to win that memorable Olympic medal in Beijing.
Amit had done well to make the quarterfinals, and had retained hopes of an Olympic medal as he made the repechage, thanks to his opponent Vladimer Khinchegashvili of Georgia reaching the final.
On a day when Asian champion Narsingh Yadav lost in the pre-quarterfinals of the 74 kg section to Matthew Judah Gentry of Canada after a bye in the first round, there was some hope as Amit put up a good fight, but it was lack of experience against world class opponents on a regular basis that cost him on this day.
Of course, Yadav’s Canadian opponent lost in the quarterfinals to Jordan Ernest Burroughs of the US.
After a bye in the first round, Amit started well as he beat the former world junior champion, Iranian Hassan Sabzali Rahimi.
It was a tough fight and Amit pulled through 3-1 on classification points after the two had tied 2-2 on technical points. Amit lost in the first period, but bounced back to prevail in the next two. In the quarterfinals, however, Amit ran into the seasoned Vladimer Khinchegashvili. The 21-year-old Georgian scored seven technical points to the solitary point by the Indian and pulled through in two periods.
There was a demand for video review from the Indian camp, but nothing was gained from it. As he had enjoyed a bye in the first round, Amit was scheduled to meet the winner of the bout between Bulgarian Velikov and the African champion Ibrahim Farag Abdelhakim Mohamed of Egypt, in the second round of repechage, and needed to win two bouts to get the bronze medal.
The advantage did not help him, and Amit conceded that he had lost only to a world class opponent, and with experience would be able to win such bouts in future.
“He hurt my left eye and I could not focus and fight properly,” said Amit, as both wrestlers failed to score in both the regulation two-minute periods. Luck was in the Bulgarian’s favour as it was the ‘blue’ ball that emerged in the draw both times.
The Indian hopes will now rest on Beijing quarterfinalist Yogeshwar Dutt in the 60 kg section on Saturday and former world champion Sushil Kumar on Sunday. The only Indian woman wrestler in the fray, Geeta Phogat had also lost in the repechage in the freestyle 55 kg section.