Asian Wrestling Championship Grappler Harpreet Singh opened India's account on the medal tally by clinching a bronze in the 80kg Greco-Roman category at the Asian Wrestling Championships being held at New Delhi.
Harpreet's bronze saved the blushes for India as the other wrestlers failed to put on an impressive performance in front of their
Harpreet bagged his second successive bronze medal at the Asian Championship after defeating Junjie Na of China 3-2.
After the first round, the scores were tied at 1-1 but the Indian came back strongly in the second round by taking down his opponent to earn two points to lead 3-1. Although the Chinese got one point due to the Indian's passivity, in the dying minutes of the bout, Harpreet applied 'bagaldo' technique to have the last laugh.
Harpreet's medal was the only silver lining on a day when not only the other Indian wrestlers returned empty handed butit was also a shabbily arranged event with a handful of crowd in attendance.
The first day of the Asian Championship lacked the sheen as it commenced to an extremely poor response with no facilities for either the fans or the media.
"There was a lot of pressure on me as I was the only medal hope left and I wanted to give the country a medal on the first day of the championship, being the hosts," said Harpreet, who had bagged a bronze at the last edition in Bangkok, Thailand.
"I focused very hard and strategised how I could win the bronze. I am glad I could apply the strategy well to win the medal in the end," he added. Another Indian in Gurpreet Singh (75kg) came close to finishing on the podium but lost his bronze medal bout 0-8 in just 38 seconds to Bin Yang of China.
Gurpreet was no match to his opponent as the Chinese simply took down the Indian and turned him over again and again to finish off the bout in no time. Earlier in the day, Harpreet reached the bronze medal round when his opponent, who had beaten him in the quarterfinal, entered the gold medal round, while Gurpreet had to win a repechage round to make the cut.
Harpreet got off to a fine start, beating Yuya Maeta of Japan 2-1 in the qualification round, but went down to June- Hyoung Kim of Korea 0-8 in the quarters. But with the Korean making the gold medal round, Harpreet had a chance to climb up the podium.
Gurpreet had entered the bronze medal round after getting the better of Burgo Beishaliev of Kyrgyzstan in his repechage bout. Gurpreet had earlier lost to Maxat Yerezhepov 6-8 in the quarterfinal but since the grappler from Kazakhstan reached the gold medal round, the Indian got another opportunity. The Indian, however, did well in his qualification bout, beating Dilshodjon Turdiev of Uzbekistan 6-4.
The other three Indian Greco-Roman wrestlers Ravinder (66kg), Hardeep (98kg) and Naveen (130kg) -- who were competing today failed to clear the hurdles and bowed out early of the tournament.
Despite getting a chance to fight a repechage bout, Hardeep failed to make use of it and lost to Yerulan Iskakov of Kazakhstan 0-9. Earlier, he was beaten by Iran's Seyed Mostafa Seyedghanbar Salehizadeh 0-5 in the quarters.Ravinder lost in the quarterfinal round 3-5 after going down to Ali Reizollah Arsalan of Iran, while Muminjon Abdullaev of Uzbekistan defeated Naveen 2-1 in the qualification round.