Wrestling Year Ender 2021: Olympic glory for Ravi Dahiya, Bajrang Poonia; fall of Sushil Kumar

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New Delhi: The involvement of Sushil Kumar in the murder case was a major blow to the reputation of Indian wrestling. But Ravi Dahiya’s rise in the Olympics and Bajrang Punia’s expected success at the Tokyo Games prevented Indian wrestling from going down the abyss in the year 2021.

Vinesh Phogat’s dream of winning an Olympic medal did not come true again but this year Indian wrestling also got a new heroine in the form of Anshu Malik, who created history by reaching the finals of the World Championships.

Indian wrestling legend Sushil was put behind bars in Tihar Jail for the murder of his fellow wrestler Sagar Dhankhar while he was preparing for the Tokyo Games. This was a major setback for Indian wrestling.

The only Indian wrestler to have won two Olympic medals and a world title, 38-year-old Indian wrestler Sushil exposed the wrong face of Indian wrestling as he played hide and seek with the police before his arrest.

When Indian wrestling hero Sushil was to prepare for the Tokyo Games, he was behind bars in Tihar Jail for the murder of his fellow wrestler Sagar Dhankhar. This was a major setback for Indian wrestling. The only Indian wrestler to have won two Olympic medals and a world title, 38-year-old Indian wrestler Sushil exposed the wrong face of Indian wrestling as he played hide and seek with the police before his arrest.

Amidst this disappointment, there was a ray of hope in the Tokyo Olympic Games. Bajrang and Vinesh were considered strong contenders for the medals, but it was Ravi Dahiya who emerged as a new star in Indian wrestling after making a strong comeback after going down 2-9 against Nurislam Sanayev of Kazakhstan in the semi-finals. He could not repeat his success against Russia’s Javur Uguyev in the final, but an Olympic silver medal made him an overnight star.

Amidst this disappointment, a ray of hope was seen in the Tokyo Olympic Games. Bajrang and Vinesh were considered strong contenders for the medals, but it was Ravi Dahiya who emerged as a new star in Indian wrestling after making a strong comeback after going down 2-9 against Nurislam Sanayev of Kazakhstan in the semi-finals. He could not repeat his success against Russia’s Javur Uguyev in the final, but an Olympic silver medal made him an overnight star.

Bajrang was considered a gold medal contender at the Tokyo Olympics but had to settle for a bronze medal. After winning the bronze medal at the World Championships 2019, he hardly lost in any tournament.

Despite facing a tough challenge, Bajrang was expected to reach the final 65 kg Freestyle weight class. He later revealed that he had injured his knee during a tournament in Russia. Despite missing out on gold, his prestige only increased by winning the bronze medal.

With two medals in wrestling, India continues its excellent track record of winning medals in this ancient sport at every Olympic Games from the 2008 Beijing Olympics to Tokyo.

Vinesh, a medal contender in the women’s category, disappointed her fans at the Tokyo Olympics. This was the second time that his dream of winning an Olympic medal did not come true. She lost to Vanessa Kalazinskaya of Belarus.

To add insult to injury, he was also suspended by the national federation for indiscipline during the Olympic Games in Tokyo. She had reportedly refused to practice with her compatriots during the Tokyo Olympics.

During this, Anshu Malik left his mark. The 20-year-old wrestler from Haryana won the senior Asian title and qualified for the Tokyo Games, but could not do much there due to lack of experience. But still she proved herself and became the first Indian female wrestler to reach the finals of the Oslo World Championships.

She tried her best against two-time Olympic medalist Helen Maroulis of the United States (US), but eventually had to settle for a silver medal. Sarita also won the bronze medal at the World Championships.

First published:December 27, 2021, 10:17 am

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