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Apr 28, 2012
SUSHIL KUMAR QUALIFIES FOR OLYMPICS
TIMES OF INDIA
NEW DELHI: Former world champion and Beijing Olympics bronze medalist wrestler, Sushil Kumar finally managed to seal his London Olympics berth after winning the 66kg freestyle title at the World Qualifying Tournament in Taiyuan, China today.
Sushil defeated Georgia's Otar Tushishvilli 3-0 in the final to qualify for the London Games in a thumping fashion.
Sushil had already booked his ticket to London before the title clash when he defeated Andriy Kvyatkovskyy of Ukraine 3-1 in the semi-final.
The grappler from Haryana, got a bye in his opening bout before making short work of Radley Umang of Palau in the second round.
Sushil then went on to beat Australia's Jayden Alexander Lawrence in the next round to set a semi-final clash against Kvyatkovskyy.
Sushil had qualified for the London Olympics in his third attempt.
Sushil wasted his first chance after failing to defend his world championship title and then lost in the second round of the Asian Olympic Qualifiers held in Astana, Kazakhstan March 30 to April 1 to make it two failures in a row before finally striking form.
It was, however, curtains for other Indian wrestlers in the freestyle category.
Mausam Khatri (96kg) had a chance to book a ticket to the London Games through repechage round, but the Indian let the opportunity slip away as he lost to Poland's Radoslaw Baran.
The grappler got a bye in the first match before losing 0-3 to Magomed Musaev of Kazakhstan, who defeated Korea's Jae-Sung Kim in the semifinal to set a title clash against Khetag Gazyumov of Azerbaijan.
In the 74Kg category, Narsingh Pancham Yadav showed some promise by pipping Slovakian Robert Olle, but the Indian failed to sustain the momentum as he lost to Bator Bazarov of Kazakhstan in his next bout.
Pawan Kumar (84Kg) also made a good start to his campaign beating Kazakhstan's Aibekin Usupov in the first match before losing to Gheorghita Stefan of Romania.
The qualification for the 120kg category in the free-style event will be held tomorrow.
Former world champion and Beijing bronze medallist Sushil Kumar on Friday won the 66kg gold medal in the World qualifying wrestling tournament in Taiyuan, China, to make the cut for the London Olympics.
Sushil became the fourth Indian wrestler to book a berth for the London Games. This will be Sushil's third straight appearance in the Olympics.
Earlier, three Indian wrestlers, Amit Kumar (55kg) and Yogeshwar Dutt (60kg) in freestyle and Geeta (55kg) in women's section, had made the Olympics from the Astana event.
It was a big of relief for Sushil, who had been going through a lean patch for quite some time. The Delhi–based grappler, who received a first round bye, outsmarted Radley Umang of Palau by fall, got the better of Australian Jayden Lawrence 3-0, 2-0 and beat Andriy Kvyatkovskyy of Ukraine 1-0, 2-1 to ensure his place in the London Games. In the final, he defeated Georgian Otar Tushishvili 2-0, 1-0 to claim the gold.
Meanwhile, other top Indian freestyle wrestlers in contention for Olympic slots did not succeed in their mission. Narsingh Yadav (74kg), Pawan Kumar (84kg) and Mausam Khatri (96kg) lost early. Khatri, who lost to eventual champion Magomed Musaev of Kyrgyzstan, had a chance to clinch the third Olympic spot in his weight. However, he failed in the repechage round.
Everyone expected Beijing Olympic Games bronze medallist Sushil Kumar to defend his title at the 2011 World Championship. But after the grappler crashed out in the first round and then failed to qualify for the London Olympics at the Asian qualification event last month, critics put the blame for
the defeats on his marriage.
On Friday, after making it to his third successive Olympics, the wrestler made his critics eat humble pie.
"Wrestling has always been my priority, and I have never lost focus," said Sushil after sealing an Olympic berth at the ongoing qualifiers in China. "The morning after I won bronze in Beijing, I had a training session as I had to compete against a Pakistani wrestler in a domestic tournament in India. Even when I was attending numerous functions after winning the Olympic medal, I made sure that I took time out for my training schedule. So, nobody can doubt my commitment to the sport," said Sushil.
Before creating history by winning the world title in 2010, Sushil had overshot his weight limit (66kg) at the Asian Championship and had to face criticism. "No player takes the field with the aim to lose," said Sushil. "Bad phases are part and parcel of a player's life, so it's not a big deal."
Sushil booked his ticket to London after defeating Ukraine's Andriy Kvyatkovskyy 3-1 in the semifinal. He went on to win the title by outclassing Georgia's Otar Tushishvilli 3-0. Both finalists got quota places.
With Sushil making it to London, all three Indians, who won medals in Beijing, will be looking for an encore. Shooter Abhinav Bindra and boxer Vijender Singh booked their berths earlier.
"I was hoping to qualify for the Olympics at the earlier tournament, but couldn't due to a shoulder injury. Before going to China, I was confident of making it. Now that I've done it, my focus will be on the Games. If all goes well, I will better by Beijing performance," said Sushil.