Indian wrestlers Ravi Dahiya (men’s freestyle 57kg) and Deepak Punia (men’s freestyle 86kg) reached the semi-finals in their respective categories at the Tokyo Olympics on Wednesday.
While Dahiya won both his bouts by technical superiority, Punia, who started off with a win by technical superiority, left it late in his quarter-final bout and won it in the final ten seconds.
Punia and Dahiya are both seeded and were expected to reach the semi-finals, but the going is expected to get tougher from hereon.
Also read – India at Tokyo 2020 day 12 live updates
Dahiya faces two-time World Championship medallist Nurislam Sanayev of Kazakhstan while Punia is up against USA’s David Taylor. Here’s all you need to know about the two semi-final opponents for Dahiya and Punia in the semi-finals.
Nurislam Sanayev (Kazakhstan) - Ravi Dahiya’s opponent
Sanayev, born in Russia took Kazakhstan citizenship in 2014. Ahead of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, he changed his name from Artas Sanaa to Nurislam Sanayev.
“I do not want other states to look at me as a mercenary who simply competes for Kazakhstan. I want everyone to consider me a Kazakh,” he is quoted as saying by Olympics.com.
With Kazakhstan, he moved to 57kg from the 61kg category he competed in as a Russian. His first major medal with his new country came at the 2017 Asian Championships when he won bronze at New Delhi.
A year later while competing in the 61kg again, he won gold at the 2018 Asian Championship in Bishkek. However, he returned to the 57kg category for the World Championships later that year to claim silver in Budapest.
A year later in Nur-Sultan, he was on the podium again in the 57kg category as he won the World Championships bronze.
Nurislam Sanayev career achievements
|2017 Asian Championships||Bronze Medal|
|2018 Asian Championships (61kg)||Gold Medal|
|2018 World Wrestling Championships||Silver Medal|
|2019 World Wrestling Championships||Bronze|
He came into Tokyo in good form, winning gold at the Matteo Pellicone Ranking Series 2021. So far, he has beaten Guinea-Bissau’s Diamantino Fafe 7-0 in the opening round before winning against Japan’s Yuki Takahashi by the narrowest of margins.
Sanayev wasn’t seeded in Tokyo but he’s already proven that he can upset the odds by reaching the semi-finals. Dahiya who has been in splendid form so far will definitely face his toughest test yet. The Kazakh suffered a cut near his eye in his quarter-final bout but given his experience, he should be able to shrug it off and put his best foot forward in the semi-final.
Sanayev at Tokyo 2020
|Round of 16||Diamantino Fafe||7-0 (Victory by Points)|
|Quarter-final||Yuki Takahashi||4-4 (Victory by points)|
David Taylor (USA) - Deepak Punia’s opponent
Taylor was among the pre-tournament favourites in the 86kg category and shot to fame when he beat Iran’s Hasa Yazdani twice. The first win came in the 2017 World Cup when the American stunned the reigning Olympic champion in his home country. He then repeated the feat at the World Championship when he stunned the Iranian 11-6 en route a gold medal in Budapest.
Taylor also has two World Cup medals (gold in 2018 and silver in 2017) and has been Pan-American champion thrice.
Taylor’s career was hit by a knee ligament injury in 2019 and hasn’t wrestled much since. He has never faced Deepak Punia and the Indian, who is eight years younger to him, has since taken over the No 2 spot in that category.
David Taylor career achievements
|2018 Pan American Championships||Gold Medal|
|2019 Pan American Championships||Gold Medal|
|2021 Pan American Championships||Gold Medal|
|2018 World Championships||Gold Medal|
|2017 World Cup||Silver Medal|
|2018 World Cup||Gold Medal|
The winner of this bout is likely to face Yazdani in the final. While Deepak has a terrible record against the Iranian, the American relishes the contest. However, Taylor will have to get past Punia who has shown that he is tough nut to crack.
Taylor has stormed through the rounds so far and won both his games in Tokyo by technical superiority.
David Taylor at Tokyo 2020
|Round of 16||Ali Shabanau||11-0 (Victory by Technical Superiority)|
|Quarter-final||Nazem Myles Amine||12-2 (Victory by Technical Superiority)|
Men’s 57kg semi-final: Ravi Dahiya (IND) vs Nurislam Sanayez (KAZ) - 2:45 PM IST
Men’s 86kg semi-final: Deepak Punia (IND) vs David Taylor (USA) - 3:05 PM IST (Approx)