Tokyo-bound Indian wrestler Ravi Kumar Dahiya secured a silver medal in Warsaw on Wednesday in the 61kg category at the Poland Open, the last Ranking Series event before the Tokyo Games.

Ravi, who has clinched the quota spot in the 57kg for Tokyo Olympics, was up against Gulomjon Abdullaev of Uzbekistan in the final. Despite leading at the halfway stage by a slender margin of 2-1, the Indian went down 3-5 despite a late charge. He had showed a tendency all day to finish his bouts strongly when his opponents tired, but he could not quite pull it off in the final.

Ravi Dahiya's bouts at Poland Open

Round Wrestler name Points Points Wrestler name
Group stage, round 1 UZB - Gulomjon ABDULLAEV 1 10 IND - Kumar RAVI
Group stage, round 2 KAZ - Adlan ASKAROV 8 13 IND - Kumar RAVI
Group stage, round 3 USA - Nathan Khalid TOMASELLO 5 9 IND - Kumar RAVI
Semifinal IND - Kumar RAVI 7 4 IRI - Reza Ahmadali ATRINAGHARCHI
Final IND - Kumar RAVI 3 5 UZB - Gulomjon ABDULLAEV
Winner highlighted in bold (*Courtesy: UWW)

Competing in only his second competition of the season, Ravi began with an easy 10-1 win against his eventual opponent in the final Abdullaev in the Group A fixture that was competed in a round-robin format.

In round two, Ravi struggled against Kazakhsthan’s Adlan Askarov before prevailing 13-8 in dramatic fashion. It was all about stamina and power as the Indian effected a stunning turnaround after trailing 0-8 to win against the Kazakh at the start of the second period.

Askarov, the Asian Championship silver medallist recently, stunned Ravi with a flurry of double-leg attacks as the Indian was struggling to negotiate with the Kazakh wrestler’s fast moves. Even as Ravi got himself positioned for counter attacks, he could not execute them. He was just one move and two points away from a defeat by technical superiority.

However, his rival lost steam in the second period and, with his coaches egging him on, Ravi took advantage of that to pull off take-down moves one after another to log 13 straight points.

He later sealed his spot in the semifinals with a 9-5 win over American Nathan Khalid Tomasello, who like Ravi, usually, competes in 57kg.

Ravi then reached the final with a 7-4 win over Iran’s Reza Ahmadali Atrinagharchi. The Iranian had the Indian in a spot by locking his left leg multiple times but was not left with much energy towards the end, allowing Ravi to enter the final.

Ravi could not quite replicate the earlier result in the day in the summit clash. He went for several double-leg and right leg attacks but Abdullaev stayed strong in his defence, showing vast improvement from his first round drubbing.

On Tuesday, another Olympic-bound Indian wrestler Deepak Punia pulled out of the Poland Open to avoid aggravating his left-hand injury.

Punia was to take mat for the 86kg event but forfeited his quarterfinal against American Zahid Valencia. The 2019 World championships bronze-winner had suffered the injury two-three days before leaving for Warsaw during practice, PTI reported.

“He did not want to aggravate the injury and had informed the Federation that he will take a call on competing after reaching. After assessing his hand this morning, he decided not to take the mat,” a source in the Indian camp said.

The Wrestling Federation of India confirmed the sequence of events.

“Yes we had given him a choice. We do not want to put pressure on wrestlers, Olympics are near, so no point in taking risks,” said WFI Assistant Secretary Vinod Tomar.

Vinesh Phogat (53kg) and Anshu Malik (57kg) will compete on Friday in the women’s event.

Bajrang Punia had also decided to miss the event, preferring to train in Russia instead. Seema Bisla (50kg) and Sonam Malik (62kg) did not travel to Warsaw as they too are nursing their respective injuries.

(With PTI inputs)