New Delhi: India's hopes of winning a medal in the Greco-Roman category went up in smoke after Bhim Singh lost his bronze-medal bout at the Senior Asian Wrestling Championship here on Friday.
Bhim was thrashed by his Iranian opponent, Davoud Gilnirang, in the 96 kg category. Davoud did not allow any opening for the Indian to score points in the bouts. The Iranian registered a resounding 1-0 8-0 win over the burly Indian, much to the disappointment of the Indian fans.
Bhim suffered a muscle strain during the match and was taken off from the arena on a stretcher. He had entered the bronze medal reckoning after winning the first repechage round 1-0 0-5 2-0 against Syria's N Saleh. Earlier, Bhim was comprehensively beaten by Yerulan Iskakov of Kazakhstan 0-7 0-6 in a bout that lasted a little over a minute, at the K D Jadhav Wrestling Stadium.
A delayed arrival for the bout did not help the Indian grappler in taking on a stronger Kazakh opponent. Bhim, who was relaxing after winning his first bout, came in running into the arena. He proved no match for Iskakov who rolled him thrice in the opening few seconds to win the first period by technical fall.
In the second period too, Bhim meekly surrendered as the Kazakh proved too much for him, and crashed out of the semifinal race. The Kazakh wrestler went on to beat Iran's Davoud Gilnirang in a controversial semifinal bout. The Iranian was deprived of a win in a bout that very much looked like dictated by him. He had his Kazakh opponent on the mat on three occasions but the referee did not find the falls convincing to award points.
Iran claimed that their wrestlers had pinned the opponent's shoulders on the mat. On one occasion, they went on to challenge the referee's decision, but the 50-50 call went in the Kazakh's favour. Furious with the decisions, the Iranian support staff walked off the arena shouting at the officials.
"I am very surprised with the decisions of the referee. I have never seen such bad refereeing. The Kazakh wrestler equally matched with ours. There were falls on the Kazakh wrestler on four occasions which the referee did not count," fumed Hassan Rangraz, the Iranian team manager. The win for the Kazakh wrestler meant that Bhim had another shot at the medal, through repechages.
Ealier, Rajbir Chhikara (74kg) raised hopes for the hosts as he won his opening bout against Pengfei Yan of China. But, in the quarterfinals, he was clinically beaten by Japan's Tomohiro Inoue 0-1 0-2. India's best bet in the 84kg category, Harpreet Singh, lost his opening match to Taichi Oka of Japan to bow out of the competition.
Harpreet, who was fielded for the injured Manoj Kumar, failed to score a point and lost the best of three periods 0-1 0-2, ending India's challenge in the Greco-Roman wrestling. In the women's 48kg category, India's Priyanka Singh lost her bout to Ayano Suzuki of Japan in a close encounter.
Priyanka registered an easy 6-1 win in the first period by performing takedowns. However, the Japanese came back strongly to prevail in the next one. The third period was intensely fought by the two diminutive grapplers, but it was the Japanese who got the better off the local favourite 1-6 3-0 3-1. No Indian wrestler could bag a medal in the seven weight categories of the Greco-Roman competition in the championship.