World champion Sushil Kumar proved his class to bag another freestyle gold medal for India even as two other home wrestlers narrowly missed the top honours in the Commonwealth Games on Sunday.
With Sushil's feat in 66kg, the host grapplers collected 10 gold medals and topped the discipline.
Anuj Kumar (84kg) and Joginder Kumar (120kg) managed silvers, while Anil Kumar (55kg) gathered a bronze on the concluding day of wrestling competitions at the K.D. Jadhav stadium in the Indira Gandhi Sports Complex here.
Pakistani grapplers Azhar Hussain (55kg) and Muhammad Inam (84kg) surprised all by claiming golds.
Sushil cruised to victory against Australia's Mehrdad Tarash (6-0) and Pakistan's Muhammad Salman (7-0, 3-0) before outwitting Gambian Famara Jarjou (3-0) in a nine-second semifinal contest.
In a repeat of the summit clash in the Commonwealth championship at Jalandhar in December last, Sushil recorded a crushing win over South African Heinrich Barnes.
The 27-year-old World champion attacked Barnes's legs and took the first period 2-0. Nevertheless, in the process, the ace wrestler received two cautions for applying faulty techniques.
Sushil adopted a more aggressive approach after the break and overpowered Barnes like a python. His control and gripping was so strong that the South African was unable to make any attempt of wriggling out. The referee adjudged Sushil the winner ‘by fall' when he was leading 5-0.
The newly-crowned champion begun his victory run amid deafening noise as everyone in the packed stadium, including Congress president Sonia Gandhi, her son and party general secretary Rahul Gandhi, Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit and Organising Committee Chairman Suresh Kalmadi joined the rest in giving Sushil a standing ovation.
“I wanted to attack him (Barnes) as he was trying to run away from me. It is a big thing to win the gold medal (before the home crowd),” said Sushil. He added the title victory would boost his preparation for the Asian Games
Luck deserts Anuj
Anuj, a silver medallist in the Manchester Games, beat Sierra Leone's A. Kalokoh (6-0, 6-0), Scottish Seon Keogh (2-0, 1-0) and Nigerian Andrew Dick (1-0, 1-1) to book a place in the title clash.
The home wrestler's impatience cost him the yellow metal as he hurried on to attack Inam in the second period after bagging the first 3-1.
The winner was ascertained through ‘clinch' following the scoreless third period. Inam won the toss and consequently the title. “I could not execute my plan. Like in Manchester, this time too luck deserted me,” said a disappointed Anuj.
Joginder, who beat England's Mark Cocker (5-0, 4-0) and Australian Denis Roberts (2-0, 1-0) on his way to the final, could not get past Canadian grappler of Indian origin Arjan Bhullar, a silver medallist in the Commonwealth championship last year.
Joginder, who had come in as a replacement for Rajiv Tomar after a positive dope test, went down in a ‘clinch' in the first period and picked up a leg injury in the next to end up at the second place.
Keywords: Commonwealth Games