Tokyo: Indian grappler Ravi Kumar Dahiya assured India of at least a silver medal at the Tokyo Olympics when he stormed into the men’s 57kg freestyle final with a ‘victory by fall’ over Kazakhstan’s Nurislam Sanayev in the semifinal.
Dahiya became only the second Indian wrestler in history after Sushil Kumar — who had entered the 2012 London Olympics final but ended up winning silver — to make it to the title round at the quadrennial showpiece.
The Indian wrestler, who is making his Olympic debut, will face Russian Olympic Committee’s (ROC) Zavur Uguev — a two-time world champion — in the final.
The Tokyo Olympic Games twitter handle ‘#Tokyo2020’ too got into the act of applauding the Indian grappler’s massive achievement, tweeting, “He was 3-9 down, with momentum and time against him. But he still didn’t lose heart and with a couple of amazing offensive moves, pinned down a two-time world championship medallist. (Clapping hands sign). Ravi Kumar Dahiya, you are a champion! (Raising hands sign)”
It was a victory for the ages as the 23-year-old Dahiya — who has trained under Satpal Singh at the Chhatrasal Stadium in Delhi since the age of 10 — turned the bout on its head when everything seemed lost to the Indian.
In what was a tight start to the contest at the Makuhari Messe Hall in Chiba, Dahiya conceded the first points due to a passivity call but roared back instantly with a two-point take down.
Leading 2-1 heading into the second period, Dahiya was dealt a massive blow when the action restarted, as Sanayev got behind the Indian, caught hold of his ankles and twirled him around a few times to flip the score 9-2 in his favor.
With just 50 seconds left on the clock, Dahiya scored a two-point takedown and converted it to a pin — exposing both his opponent’s shoulders to the mat — and won the bout by fall.