Returning to the World Championship after eight years, double Olympic medallist Sushil Kumar lost his opening round bout to Azerbaijan's Khadzhimurad Gadzhiyev in Nur Sultan on Friday. Using all his experience, the wily Indian had raced to a 9-4 lead but lost seven points in a row to lose the 74 kg qualification bout. Sushil employed a four-point throw after trailing 0-2 to take lead and further consolidated it with another four-point throw, which came from a difficult position. The Azerbaijan camp challenged the throw but lost the call, giving one additional point to Sushil for a 9-4 lead at the break.
However, the second period belonged to the Junior world bronze medallist, who first pushed Sushil out and the scored of a takedown and took the lead with a gut wrench from ground position. Time was running out but Sushil appeared to tired himself out as Gadzhiyev scored two more points with a two-point push out throw to clinch the bout. The two-time Olympic medallist will now have to wait to know his fate. If Gadzhiyev reaches the final, Sushil, will get a chance to fight for Olympic qualification as well as a bronze.
Sushil is the only Indian to have won a World title when he triumphed in 2010 in Moscow. In the non-Olympic 70kg, Karan lost his Qualification round bout 0-7 to Uzbekistan's Ikhtiyor Navruzov.
Bajrang Punia lost his semifinal bout against home wrestler Daulet Niyazbekov under controversial circumstances after he secured his place in the Tokyo Olympics along with debutant Ravi Dahiya at the World Wrestling Championships in Nur Sultan on Thursday. Bajrang's frustrated coach Shako Banitidis kicked the coach's block in anger, protesting the partisan officiating during the 65kg bout, which ended 9-9 after a nerve-wracking six minutes. Since Niyazbekov was given a bigger throw of four points in the bout, he was declared winner. In the controversial bout, the referee gave ample time to tiring Niyazbekov to catch his breath and he was not given warning at least thrice. Instead, the home wrestler was awarded four points when they should have gone to Bajrang for effecting a throw at the edge of the circle.