Promising Army wrestler Sandeep Tomar gave a good account of his all round abilities to claim his maiden title on the opening day of the National wrestling championship at the Nandini Nagar College campus here on Friday.
The 21-year-old Navy grappler, a National junior champion in 2011, got past some established wrestlers on way to winning the men’s 55kg freestyle gold on his second attempt. He had finished fifth in his debut year.
Tomar defeated three opponents before booking a berth in the semifinals. In an intensely fought last-four bout against an experienced Balraj Singh of Railways, he staged a comeback to win the first period 5-3. He held his nerve through a long video referral in the second period before narrowly losing it at levelled scores 1-1. In the decider, the Baghpat boy relied on his swift action and tight grips to outsmart Balraj 5-0 and advance to the final.
In the title clash, Tomar continued with his good showing to overpower another accomplished wrestler Nitin, who was part of the Olympics core group.
Tomar exhibited some fine counterattacks to breach the strong defence of Nitin, a silver medal winner in the Hari Ram Indian Grand Prix, and emerge victorious with a 1-1, 3-0 scoreline. “My strength is my speed. It helped me in the semifinal and the final,” said Tomar.
In another major upset, home favourite Manoj Kumar stunned defending champion Pradeep Kumar in the final to bag the 66kg freestyle crown. Manoj, who went past Kuldeep Tomar of Railways in an impressive semifinal clash, matched Pradeep’s might to take the first period 1-0 through a clinch.
In the next period, the Uttar Pradesh wrestler, a bronze medallist in the last edition, waited till the final 30 seconds before surprising Pradeep with some well-executed attacks to bag it 4-1. This was Manoj's first gold medal in the National championship.
World championship bronze medal winner Babita Kumari took the 55kg women’s title without much toil, while Doha Asian Games silver medallist Geetika Jakhar staved off a strong challenge from Rajni to emerge the 63kg champion.
In a strong 48kg field, Delhi girl Sumel gave a series of tough performances to take the top honour. In Greco-Roman contests, Rajbir Chikara retained his title in 74kg, while Ravindar Singh won the 60kg championship.
The medallists: Men: Freestyle: 55kg: 1.Sandeep Tomar (SSCB), 2 Nitin (Pun), 3. Manoj (Har) and Balraj Singh (RSPB); 66kg: 1. Manoj Kumar (UP), 2. Pradeep Kumar (RSPB), 3. Ranjit Nalawade (Mah) and Amit Dhankar (Har).
Greco-Roman: 60kg: 1. Ravindar Singh (Har), 2. Anil (SSCB), 3. Manish
(Har) and Parvesh Rathi (UP); 74kg: 1. Rajbir Chikara (RSPB), 2. Ravinder Khatri (SSCB), 3. Gurpreet Singh (Pun) and Sunil Rana (UP).
Women: 48kg: 1. Sumel (Del), 2. Priyanka Singh (UP), 3. Nirmal Devi (Har) and Kaushalya Waugh (Mah); 55kg: 1. Babita Kumari (Har), 2. Kamlesh (Del), 3. Apoorva Tyagi (UP) and Ritu (Har); 63kg: 1. Geetika Jakhar (Har), 2. Rajni (UP), 3. Sakshi Malik (Har) and N. Tumbi Devi (Mani).