Ravi Dahiya on Wednesday became only the second Indian wrestler to qualify for the title clash at the Olympic Games, when he sensationally turned around the 57kg semifinal bout by pinning Kazakhstan's Nurislam Sanayev. Before Dahiya, the son of a farmer from Haryana, Sushil Kumar was the only Indian to make the gold medal bout at the 2012 Olympics in London where he won a silver.
The fourth-seeded Dahiya trailed 2-9 after Sanayev effected a few fitley (leg lace) but as the clocked ticked away, Dahiya regrouped and got hold of his rival with a double leg attack that resulted in a ‘victory by fall’.
“I had no business conceding that much lead against Sanayev. I am not happy about it,” Dahiya said later. His comments just show the kind of standards the Indian from Nahri village in Haryana has set for himself. “I have beaten Sanayev twice, so I knew I can pull it off despite trailing by a huge margin. I was assured inside, but I should not have conceded lead and made it a close fight. That was pretty bad of me,” he said.
“I still have some unfinished business to do. I came with a target here and that is not complete yet,” he said. In the final on Thursday, Dahiya will face reigning world champion Russian Zavur Uguev to whom he had lost in the 2019 World Championship semifinals.
Strap: Boxer Lovlina Borgohain bags bronze on Olympic debut
Boxer Lovlina Borgohain became the third Indian athlete at the Tokyo Olympics after weightlifter Mirabai Chanu and shuttler PV Sindhu to clinch a medal -- a bronze -- after she lost her welterweight semifinal bout to Turkey's Busenaz Surmeneli on Wednesday. India have now bettered their 2016 Rio Olympic Games tally by clinching a silver and two bronze in Tokyo.
The 23-year-old from Golaghat district of Assam lost her 64/69kg category last-four bout in a unanimous decision to Busenaz, who is ranked No. 1. Lovlina also became the third boxer to win a medal at the Olympics for India after Vijender Singh and MC Mary Kom's bronze at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics respectively.
“Accha to nahi lag raha hai. I worked hard for a gold medal so it is a bit disappointing,” Lovlina said after the bout, in which she was docked a point for not paying attention to the referee's instructions. “I could not execute my strategy, she was strong, I thought if I play on the backfoot, I would get hit, so I went on the offensive but it didn't work out as I had thought,” she explained.
"I wanted to hit her confidence, par hua nahi. She was relentless and that was the problem,” she said. “I always wanted to compete in the Olympics and win a medal. I am glad I got a medal but I could have got more,” she said.
Strap: Neeraj Chopra tops qualification with 86.65m effort
Star Indian javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra raised India's hopes of a track and field medal when he qualified for the final at the Tokyo Olympic Games on Wednesday, sealing a top place from his group, and finishing ahead of Germany's Johannes Vetter, who is the favourite for gold at the quadrennial showpiece.
At the Olympic Stadium, the 23-year-old Chopra, the junior world champion, cleared the automatic qualifying mark of 83.50 metres with his first attempt of 86.65 metres in Group A to emerge a strong contender for a medal in the final to be held on Saturday. Vetter qualified second from Group A with a throw of 85.64 metres.
Pakistan's Arshad Nadeem, who shared the podium with Chopra at the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, was overall third with his best throw of 85.16 metres after he topped Group B.
All eyes will be on Chopra in Saturday's final as he is on a roll this season and is the owner of the national record -- 88.07m -- which he achieved at the Indian Grand Prix in March.
Germany's Vetter -- the 28-year-old who hurled the spear to a distance of 97.76 metres in an event in Poland last September and threatened Czech Republic's Jan Zelezny's world record of 98.48 metres (1996) -- was below-par on Wednesday, managing a best of 85.64 and taking all three attempts before he could make the grade. In contrast, Chopra made only a single attempt.
And a big round of applause to the Indian women hockey team, who gave Argentina a scare in the semis and who will now play for bronze.
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