India’s Sumit Malik earned a quota spot in 125kg at Tokyo 2020 while Amit Dhankar and Satywart Kadian were ousted from the World Wrestling Olympic Qualifiers after losing at different stages of the competition in Sofia, Bulgaria on Thursday.

Sumit, with a strong counterattacking display, defeated Venezuela’s Jose Daniel Diaz Robertti 5-0 in the semifinals and earned a shot at his maiden Olympic appearance. His opponent, on the other hand, was a two-time Olympian. The Indian earned his first point on account of passivity and in the second period made the most of Diaz’s attempts to attack and get back into the bout. Sumit stood firm on defence and converted counter moves to earn a couple of two-pointers.

Sumit’s efforts earned a seventh wrestling spot for India at the upcoming Summer Games. Six Indian wrestlers had qualified already before this event. In men’s freestyle, Ravi Dahiya (57kg), Bajrang Punia (65kg) and Deepak Punia (86kg) made the cut, while Vinesh Phogat (53kg), Anshu Malik (57kg) and Sonam Malik (62kg) qualified in the women’s category.

Sumit was one win away from earning a quota spot for the Tokyo Games after an impressive first session on the opening day of the event.

In the quarterfinal against Tajikistan’s Rustam Iskandari, Sumit was in trouble at one stage as he trailed 2-4 after leading 2-0 but logged four two-pointers to win quite comfortably in the end by a score of 10-5. It was an uncharacteristically high-scoring bout in that weight category for the Indian.

A win in the semi-final earns the grapplers quota spots at the event, which is the last in wrestling. The medal match will take place on Friday.

Earlier, Dhankar and Kadian’s defeats meant that India will go unrepresented in the 74kg and 97kg at the Tokyo Games.

In his 125kg qualification bout against Kyrgyzstan’s Aiaal Lazarev, Malik was trailing 1-2 till the last 25 seconds but got a push-out point towards the end and won on criteria, when the scores were tied at 2-2.

His next bout was against Moldova’s Alexandr Romanov. He trailed 0-1 after losing a point on passivity. In the second period, he lost another point when he was pushed out by his opponent but as has been his strategy – Malik attacks in the closing stage of the bout – he pulled off a two-point throw to make it even and finally won 3-2.

The finalists at this competition will qualify for Tokyo Games.

Veteran Dhankar lost his 74kg Qualification bout 6-9 to Moldova’s Mihail Sava. After trailing 0-4, Dhankar put up a spirited fight in the second period, but the Moldovan was up to the task.

Kadian won his pre-quarterfinal 5-2 against Evan Amadour Ramos from Puerto Rico. He led 3-0 in the first period, but a take-down move by his rival threatened his chances before the Indian got another two-pointer to win easily.

In the quarterfinal against Bulgaria’s Ahmed Sultanovich Bataev, Kadian blew away a 5-1 lead to go out of the competition as he lost the bout on criteria, conceding four points in the last 20 seconds.

Kadian trailed after the first period, losing the point on passivity. In the second period, he scored five points in a row, starting with a passivity point and followed that up with two push-outs and a two-point throw. However, the Bulgarian turned the tide in his favour with consecutive take-downs to stun the Indian camp in the final seconds.

UPDATE: India’s Greco Roman wrestler Naveen Kumar tested positive for Covid-19 in Sofia, forcing him to withdraw from the competition. It is second time that Naveen (97kg) has contracted the dreaded virus as he had got infected few months back but had recovered, reported PTI.

“All of us tested negative when samples were taken on Wednesday at the venue but Naveen tested positive. He is staying in the same hotel where we are staying. He is asymptomatic,” India’s national Greco Roman Hargobind Singh told PTI.

The Greco Roman competition will begin on Saturday

With PTI inputs

Wrestle Sofia schedule (Tokyo qualifier)

Date Time (Bulgaria, Sofia)
06.05.2021 10.00-15.00 Qualification rounds FS – 57-65-74-86-97-125kg
06.05.2021 19.00-21.00 Tokyo 2020 Qualifying Round (Semi Final) FS – 57-65-74-86-97-125kg
07.05.2021 10.00-14.00 Qualification rounds WW – 50-53-57-62-68-76kg
07.05.2021 10.00-14.00 Repechage FS – 57-65-74-86-97-125kg
07.05.2021 16.45-18.45 Ranking Matches (Bronze – Gold) FS – 57-65-74-86-97-125kg
07.05.2021 19.00-21.00 Tokyo 2020 Qualifying Round (Semi Final) WW/LF – 50-53-57-62-68-76kg
08.05.2021 10.00-16.00 Qualification rounds GR – 60-67-77-87-97-130kg
08.05.2021 10.00-16.00 Repechage WW – 50-53-57-62-68-76kg
08.05.2021 16.45-18.45 Ranking Matches (Bronze – Gold) WW – 50-53-57-62-68-76kg
08.05.2021 19.00-21.00 Tokyo 2020 Qualifying Round (Semi Final) GR – 60-67-77-87-97-130kg
09.05.2021 16.00-17.45 Repechage GR – 60-67-77-87-97-130kg
09.05.2021 18.00-20.00 Ranking Matches (Bronze – Gold) GR – 60-67-77-87-97-130kg
IST = 2.5 hours ahead of Sofia (FS: Freestyle, WW: Women's Wrestling, GR: Greco Roman)