No quota for India in the Men’s freestyle event as Aman Sehrawat falls short in the semi-final of the Olympic Qualifiers

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Aman Sehrawat

In a significant setback for Indian wrestling, Aman Sehrawat fell short of securing a quota for the Paris 2024 Olympics at the Asian Wrestling Olympic Qualifiers held in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. The loss has left India without a quota in men’s freestyle wrestling.

Aman Sehrawat, a former Asian and U23 world champion, was the only Indian wrestler who came close to securing a quota. He started his campaign in Bishkek by defeating Kazakhstan’s Yerassyl Mukhtaruly 10-0 by technical superiority in the qualifying round. He then downed the Republic of Korea’s Kim Sunggwon 11-1 by technical superiority in the quarter-finals.

Aman Sehrawat lost in penultimate clash

However, the semi-final bout proved to be a stumbling block for Sehrawat. He faced Uzbekistan’s Gulomjon Abdullaev, a Tokyo 2020 Olympian and former junior Asian champion. In a decisive match, Sehrawat fell 10-0 to the Uzbek wrestler and bowed out.

The loss was particularly disappointing as the Olympic wrestling qualifying tournament follows a bracket system where the two semi-finalists from each weight division obtain quotas for their respective countries. There are no gold medal bouts or repechage.

The other Indian wrestlers also failed to make a mark at the qualifiers. Jaideep, in the men’s 74kg division, was eliminated in the quarter-finals. After beating Turkmenistan’s Alp A. Begenjov 10-0 via technical superiority in the qualifier, he lost by criteria to Kyrgyz grappler Orozobek Toktomambetov in the final eight. Sumit also bowed out in the quarters of the men’s 125kg division after facing a 10-0 defeat against Mongolia’s Lkhagvagerel Munkhtur. Japan’s Arash Yoshida knocked out India’s Deepak in the first round of the men’s 97kg competition.

Adding to the woes, Tokyo Olympian Deepak Punia (86kg) and Sujeet (65kg) were not allowed to compete as they reached late for weigh-ins in Bishkek after they were stuck in Dubai due to heavy rainfall in the region.

The Bishkek meet was the penultimate opportunity for Indian wrestlers to secure a quota for the upcoming Summer Games. The World Qualification Tournament in Turkiye, scheduled in May, will be the final wrestling qualifier for Paris 2024.

As of now, India has secured only one wrestling quota for Paris 2024. Antim Panghal obtained a berth in the women’s 53kg category by winning a bronze medal at the 2023 World Wrestling Championships in Belgrade.

The loss of Aman Sehrawat and the failure to secure any quota in men’s freestyle wrestling is a significant blow to India’s Olympic aspirations. However, the upcoming World Qualification Tournament in Turkiye presents another opportunity for the wrestlers to turn their fortunes around and secure a place in the Paris 2024 Olympics.

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