Sumit Malik’s best finish at a world championships before today was 20th in 2017. But three years after his first ever world championships, the 125kg wrestler had a chance to history for India had he won his semi-final bout on the first day of the Budapest world championships on Saturday.
No Indian heavyweight wrestler has ever reached the final of a senior world championships and Sumit could have been the first but he lost 0-5 to Deng of China, ending his quest for a place in the final in Budapest.
He still has a chance to create history when he take mat on Sunday for the bronze medal bout. The 2017 Asian championships silver medallist had an impressive run on Saturday with dominating win over Taiki Yamamoto of Japan (4-1) and Yermukambet Inkar of Kazakhstan (6-1).
It was a complete different story in the semi-final where Sumit failed to attack Deng even once and gave up a point for passivity. Deng led 1-0 at the break but took a point for step out early in the second period followed by another passivity point against Sumit.
The Indian tried to complete a takedown in the final minute of the bout but Deng was quick to defend and later counter to get his own takedown for two points and complete the win and reach the final.
Three other Indian wrestlers in action on Saturday suffered early losses and could not reach the semi-finals. However, Sonba Gongane will wrestle in the repechage round after the opponent he lost his quarter-final Gadzhimurad Rashidov entered the final. Sonba will wrestle Tuvshintulga Tumenbileg of Mongolia for a place in the 61kg bronze medal bout.
Two other Indian wrestlers, Jitender in 74kg and Pawan Kumar in 86kg lost their opening bouts and were eliminated from the tournament after their respective opponents failed to reach the final.
On Sunday, four other Indian wrestlers will be in action and leading the charge will be Bajrang Punia in 65kg. Sandeep Tomar will wrestle in 57kg while Sachin Rathi and Deepak Saroha will wrestle in 79kg and 92kg respectively.