Star wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt on Saturday secured an Olympic quota place for India with a gold-medal finish in the men’s 65kg freestyle category on an otherwise disappointing day for the country’s grapplers in the Asian Olympic Qualification tournament in Astana.
Yogeshwar became the second Indian wrestler after Narsingh Yadav to book a berth for the Rio Games, to be held later this year.
Even before he clinched the yellow metal, the 33-year-old had qualified for Olympics by virtue of reaching the final on the second day of the competition.
The top two finishers in each weight category here are assured of a Rio berth.
The London Olympics bronze-medallist finished on top of the podium after his rival from China Katai Yeerlanbieke forfeited the gold-medal bout.
En route the final, Yogeshwar put up a dominating show, winning all his three bouts rather comfortably.
Having beaten Kim Ju-song of North Korea in qualification round 8-1, he got the better of Xuan Dinh Nguyen of Vietnam by
fall verdict 12-2 in quarters and then followed it up by beating Lee Seung-Chul of Korea 7-2 in his semifinal bout.
The ongoing tournament is the second qualifying event for the Rio Games.
The first was last year’s World Championship in Las Vegas, where only Narsingh Yadav bagged a quota place for the country in men’s 74kg freestyle.
Yogeshwar, who had pulled out of the 2015 World Championship due to an injury, has qualified for the Rio Games in his first attempt in Astana.
Yogeshwar had won bronze at the last Olympics in men’s 60kg freestyle but since then moved up to 65kg after the international governing body FILA re-jigged the weight classes at the end of 2013.
However, Yogeshwar hardly faced any problem competing in the higher bracket as he has so far managed to win nothing less than a gold at whichever tournament he has participated in since climbing up the weight division.
In the other men’s freestyle contest today, Satywart Kadian missed out on a third-place finish as he went down to Japan’s Takeshi Yamaguchi 2-3 in his bronze-medal bout in men’s 97kg division.
Satywart had earlier lost his semifinal bout 3-4 against Magomed Musaev of Kyrgyzstan to lose out on an Olympic berth.
He had earlier defeated China’s Zhang Xueyi 4-2 in the quarterfinal.
In women’s section, both the Indian girls in the fray on the day Sakshi Malik (58kg) and Kiran (75kg) put up a disappointing show, failing to finish on the podium after going down in their respective bronze-medal bouts.
Sakshi got off to a good start, beating Chinese Li Qian 8-2 to enter the semis but could not cross the last four hurdle as Mongolian wrestler Orkhon Purevdorj proved to be too strong for her.
The Indian lost 0-4 by Fall verdict.
In the bronze-medal play-off, Aiym Abdildina of Kazakhstan outplayed Sakshi 5-2.
Kiran also failed to finish third after going down to Hui-Tsz Chang of Chinese Taipei 5-7 in her bronze-medal bout.
Kiran got lucky to be fighting for the bronze, despite losing in the qualification round itself to Guzel Manyurova 0-6, as the Kazakh girl made the finals.
In Greco-Roman category, Harpreet (75kg) entered the bronze medal round but could not climb up the podium as he got defeated at the hands Bin Yang of China 2-4 in a closely-fought contest.
Harpreet had earlier in the day thrashed Bakhit Sharif K Badr of Qatar 8-0 in qualification round before losing to Hyeonwoo Kim of Korea 0-4 in quarterfinals.
However, the other Indian in Greco Roman section, Naveen lost in the qualification round of 130kg to bow out of the tournament early.