Asian Games: Sunil Kumar wins India's first Greco-Roman medal in 13 years

Sunil Kumar won the bronze in the 87kg category

Sunil Kumar won India's first Greco-Roman medal in 13 years at the Asian Games, bagging a bronze in the 87kg category even as three of his compatriots exited the tournament here on Wednesday.

Up against Kyrgyzstan's Atabek Azisbekov, the Indian wrestler fought a strategic bout in which twice he defended well from 'par terre position, denying his opponent a scoring opportunity from the ground position for a 2-1 win.

He kept sliding in circles on his right, not letting Azisbekov get a grip to lift him.

It was Azisbekov, who got on board first with a passivity point in the first period. Sunil levelled the score on Azisbekov's passivity as a major part of the bronze play-off was move-less.

The Indian also successfully challenged the referee's two-point decision given in favour of Azisbekov, who had managed to push Sunil out but was not in control of the push-out move.

Sunil was already ahead on criteria and got the decisive point towards the end.

India had won two medals in Greco-Roman in the Guangzhou edition with Ravinder Singh (60kg) and Sunil Kumar Rana (66kg) winning a bronze each in 2010.

Sunil had begun with a close 4-3 win over China's Fei Ping and followed that up with a technical superiority victory over Tajikistan's Sukhrob Abdulkhaev, winning the quarterfinal in the first period itself.

The 2020 Asian champion then bumped into formidable reigning Asian champion Naser Alizadeh from Iran and lost 1-4 to go out of the gold medal race.

The other Indians in contention -- Gyanender (60kg), Neeraj (67kg) and Vikas (77kg) -- could not even win a single round.

Gyanender lost his opening bout 1-7 to Iran's Meysam Dalkhani, while Neeraj lost 3-5 to Uzbekistan's Makhmud Bakhshilloev.

Vikas lost his bout by technical superiority to China's Rui Liu.

On Thursday, the two remaining Indian Greco Roman wrestlers -- Narinder Cheema (97kg) and Naveen (130kg) -- will present their challenge.

The women's competition will also begin on Thursday and fast-rising Antim Panghal (53kg) will be in action along with the talented Pooja Gehlot (50kg) and Mansi Ahlawat (57kg).

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