In boxing at the Olympic Games reaching semi-finals guarantees a medal but wrestling works differently with repechage coming in to decide the bronze winners.
Repechage roughly means a second chance for all wrestlers who lose against both finalists.
India in the past have made the most of repechage in wrestling, with three medals coming through it. The most recent was Sakshi Malik at Rio 2016 while in 2008 and 2012 as well, Sushil Kumar and Yogeshwar Dutt won bronze from the repechage rounds.
Here’s how it works:
Repechage in wrestling, a quick explainer:
If you lose against someone who goes on to be a finalist in your category, you become active again and will have repechage matches.
There are two separated groups of repechage: one group of wrestlers who lost against the first finalist, and another group of wrestlers who lost against the second finalist. The repechage matches begin with wrestlers who lost in the first round against one of the two finalists up until two to the losers in the semi-finals by direct elimination.
So in the case of an event starting with round of 16, the loser in that round against a finalist will fight against the loser in the quarterfinal against the finalist. The winner of that bout will fight against the loser of the semifinal for bronze. (Basically losing in the semifinal takes the wrestler to the bronze medal bout directly).
The winners of the two repechage groups will receive each the bronze medal.
Taking the case of Sakshi in Rio 2016 as an example, she won in the first round and the round of 16 but lost in the quarterfinal against Valeria Koblova of Russia. Koblova then reached the final, which meant everyone who lost against her became active again. Sakshi then entered repechage, first facing the winner of the bout between the earlier losers versus Koblova. Aisuluu Tynybekova (KGZ), by virtue of losing in the semi-final against Koblova, was directly into the bronze medal bout, which Sakshi reached through her win in repechage round 2 and defeated her to win bronze.
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