As is customary,the referee the hand of Irans Davoud Gilnirang to declare him the winner,even as Bhim Singh was being attended to by Indias coaches and the physio. This was the last action in the bronze-medal play off in the 96kg category and the manner in which it was ended – Bhim sustained an ankle injury – summed up the kind of day the Indian Greco-Roman camp had.
Earlier on Friday,Rajbir Chikkara (74kg) and Harpreet Singh (84kg) both lost their bouts and after Bhims loss later,the Indian team fell to a familiar low. This was the second time in two years that the Greco-Roman team had failed to get even a single podium finish the Asian Championships.
Starting off in the first round,Bhim Singh did well to stay in the fight against the Iranian,who was the overwhelming favourite. Bhim was within seconds of winning the round and stretching the contest when he was given the advantageous hold by the referee. Instead,the Iranian bagged the point as the Sonepat grappler failed to make it count. Bhim Singh never got a look in from there on,losing the tie 1-0 and 8-0 to bow out.
We were unlucky with the draw in most weight divisions. But we have to be realistic too,the Iranian was far superior to Bhim. In fact,we were surprised he (Gilnirang) didnt advance to the final today, chief coach Hargobind Singh said after the defeat.
In the semifinal,Gilnirang went down in controversial manner. He had floored Kazakhstans Yerulan Iskakov more than once in the third period of their last four bout but the referees did not register the point. Despite all the protests and a review the referee panel did not overturn the decision.
Late & early exits
Gilnirangs loss was what had handed Bhim Singh another shot at the medal through repechage as the Indian had earlier lost to the Kazakhi wrestler in the quarter-finals. In an earlier round,Bhim Singh had defeated Kyrgyzstans Aman Toktogonov after losing the first period.
Also making an early exit from the tournament was Priyanka Singh,the sole Indian female wrestler on show today,after losing her opening bout to Japans Ayano Suzuki.