Indian wrestlers kicked off their 2018 Commonwealth Games campaign with two gold, a silver and a bronze medal to take India’s medal tally to 14 gold, six silver and nine bronze.
Two-time Olympics medallist Sushil Kumar, whose participation in the Commonwealth Games had created enough controversy, scored 10 points against South Africa’s Johannes Botha in a minute and 20 seconds to register a win by technical superiority in the men’s 74kg freestyle final.
In fact, the 34-year-old did not concede a single point in the four bouts he fought on Thursday and three of them were won by technical knock-out to clinch his third successive Commonwealth Games gold.
Earlier, Rahul Aware had opened the gold medal account for India with a 15-7 win over Canada’s Steven Takahashi.
The 26-year-old struggled for a major part of the first round and trailed the Canadian 2-4 at one stage. But he came back strong winning four quick points at the fag end of that round and then clinched nine more points in the second round to take the gold medal.
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However, it was a heart break for Babita Kumari in the women’s 53kg category as the 2014 Games gold medallist in 55 kg struggled against Canada’s Diana Weicker and lost 2-5 in the final round-robin game of the nordic system.
Babita, who went into the final bout leading the pack, was penalised for passivity in the opening round and though she managed to earn two points in the second round, her Canadian opponent always had a firm grip on the Indian.
This was Babita’s third medal in the Commonwealth Games, having won the silver in 51kg in New Delhi 2010 and a gold in the 55kg category in Glasgow 2014.
Another Indian in the fray, Kiran bagged the bronze medal with a 10-0 technical superiority victory over Mauritius’ Katouskia Pariadhaven after she was beaten by a similar scoreline in the semi-finals by Nigeria’s Blessing Onyebuchi.