India ended Day 8 at the Commonwealth Games with seven medals, with four of those coming from wrestling. Double-olympic medallist Sushil Kumar (74kg) snapped up his third successive gold medal at the CWG, winning his final bout in one minute and 20 seconds against South Africa’s Johannes Botha on technical superiority. Prior to the final, Sushil scored easy technical superiority victories over Canada’s Jevon Balfour and Pakistan’s Muhammad Asad Butt before scoring a victory by fall over Australia’s Connor Evans.
CWG debutant wrestler Rahul Aware also took home the gold in men’s 57kg category. Aware prevailed 15-7 over Canada’s Steven Takahashi in an exciting contest during which the Indian was troubled by a groin niggle but chose to carry on with more than a minute left on the clock. He was also trailing 6-7 at one point during the bout.
Aware’s triumph opened India’s gold medal account in the three-day wrestling competition at the Games. He also had a smooth passage into the final with comprehensive wins over England’s George Ramm, Australia’s Thomas Cicchini and Pakistan’s Muhammad Bilal.
“I have been waiting for this medal for the last 10 years. I can’t describe how it feels to claim it. I missed out on 2010, even in 2014, the team was sent without trials. So, I am very happy that I could finally fulfill this dream,” said the 26-year-old, who is also the reigning Commonwealth championships gold-medallist.
“My leg was troubling me for a while but I dedicate this to my guru (former CWG gold-medallist Harishchandra Birajdar) who passed away in 2011, I am happy that all the efforts I put in got the result I wanted. I have fulfilled my family’s dream. My opponent probably lacked intensity in the final few moments,” added the wrestler from Haryana.
However, another defending champion Babita phogat (53kg) settled for a silver, while debutant Kiran clinched a hard-earned bronze. Kiran defeated Mauritian Katouskia Pariadhaven by fall in the repechage of the 76kg category for her first major medal at the international level.
Babita, who claimed a silver in the 2010 edition before a gold in Glasgow, failed to break through her rival’s defences, going down 2-5 in the contest.
“I think my weakness today was my attack, I should have been more aggressive but I gave my 100 per cent. I am satisfied with the intensity I put in but obviously I could not get the result I wanted,” she said.
“I had a bit of a problem in my knees too but injuries are a wrestler’s ornaments. We live with niggles, there is nothing there,” she added.
Babita made the final after notching wins over Nigeria’s Samuel Bose, Sri Lanka’s Deepika Dilhani, and Australia’s Carissa Holland.
Earlier, India began the day with a silver medal coming from the shooting range. Teswini Sawant won silver in the women’s 50m rifle prone. The day also saw India win their first medals in atheletics when Seema Punia and Navjeet Dhillon won silver and bronze respectively in discus throw. Punia won her fourth successive CWG medal after her best effort of 60.41m, which came in her opening attempt, was enough to win her a silver. Dhillon grabbed the bronze with her final throw of 57.43m.
All members of the Indian badminton contigent advanced to the quarterfinals in both individual and team events. Indian paddlers also enjoyed success on day 8, with most of the stars making it to next round.