New Delhi: Amit Kumar stole the limelight as he stormed into the finals of men's freestyle 55kg category at the Senior Asian Wrestling Championship on Saturday. Women grapplers Vinesh and Babita Kumari will also have a shot at a bronze medal each as they lost their semifinal bouts in 51kg and 55kg category. The other Indian in the fray today, Bajrang, will be competing against Japan's Shoogo Maeda for a podium finish.
The star for the home team was Amit, who defeated Kazakhstan's Rassul Kaliyev comfortably in his first bout of the day. Amit, last year's Asian Championship bronze medallist, drew loud cheers from home fans when he entered the mat. The 20-year-old fended off the Kazakh's challenge without breaking much sweat and won the bout 2-0 3-0. Amit, who got a bye in the first round, then went on to register a comprehensible win over Fumitaka Morishita of Japan, to reach the final and assure India its first medal in the Championships.
Amit won the opening period of the semifinal bout 1-0. The Haryana lad started well in the next period and gained a 2-0 lead. But, in the process, Amit received a hit on his head and was given medical treatment. However, Amit continued with his momentum and went on the win the bout by fall. He will face North Korea's Kyong Yang II in the final bout of the 55kg division.
Earlier, sisters Vinesh and Babita raised India's medal hopes after registering contrasting wins in their opening bouts. Vinesh beat Japan's Nanami Irie 1-2 1-1 1-0 while Babita decimated Liliya Shakirova of Uzbekistan 5-0 3-0. In the semifinals, Vinesh started well by winning the first period 6-1. However, in the next two periods, Kazakhstan's Tatyana Amanzol eked out a clinical performance to leave the home fans disappointed.
Tatyana won the bout 1-6 1-0 2-0 to send Vinesh out of the gold medal race in the 51kg category. Bronze medallist at the World Championship last year, Babita (55kg) was defeated by Japan's Kanako Murata 3-3 0-6 4-5 in the semifinals.