New Delhi: Wrestler Sandeep Tomar secured an Olympic quota by clinching a bronze in the men’s freestyle 57kg category at the World Qualifying Tournament here on Sunday.
Sandeep overpowered Andriy Yatsenko of Ukraine 11-0 in the play-off bout to finish on the podium. The 25-year-old from Haryana is the fourth Indian wrestler to secure quote places for the Rio Olympics.
London Olympics bronze medallist Yogeshwar Dutt (men’s 65kg freestyle), Narsingh Pancham Yadav (men’s 74kg freestyle) and Hardeep Singh (Greco-Roman 98kg) have earlier clinched Olympic quotas for the Rio Games, to be held from August 5-21.
Sandeep started his campaign on a promising note by thrashing Sezar Akgul of Turkey 11-0. He then defeated Ulukbek Zholdoshbekov of Kyrgyzstan 4-1 to enter the semi-finals where he went down 8-8 to Mirjalal Hasan-Zada of Azerbaijan after a tough fight. However, the Indian then blanked Alexandru Chirtoaca of Moldova 10-0 in the repechage round to enter the bronze medal play-off.
“I am overjoyed at winning the quota and I think the hard yards that I put in before this qualifier have paid off. I was a little disappointed at having missed out on the final but it was important to eliminate that loss from my thinking as soon as possible,” Tomar said.
“I was moving well today, I knew that if I kept my opponent busy and engaged, I would have a good chance. Now, all I have to do is to focus on the Olympics and these next three months are going to be extremely crucial,” he added.
Only the top three finishers in each weight category here are eligible for an Olympic berth in this tournament. Securing a bronze medal was not enough to ensure a ticket to Rio and Sandeep had to fight with the other bronze medallist in his category for a lone third-place finish.
Sandeep’s performance was the only bright spot for Indian fans as the other Indians in the fray in the men’s freestyle categories on Sunday returned empty-handed.
Sumit Kumar (125kg) lost a closely fought bout 4-6 to Daniel Ligeti of Hungary in the pre-quarterfinals. Sumit qualified for the repechage round after Ligeti entered the final. But he got injured and decided not to compete in the repechage bout.
In the 86kg division, Somveer Kadian was no match for Piotr Ianulov of Moldova, going down 0-10 in the pre-quarterfinals. Satywart Kadian had a good start in the 97kg category with a commanding 13-2 win over Xueyi Zhang of China in the opening round.
But he crashed out at the pre-quarterfinal stage after being edged out 4-5 by Gennadji Cudinovic of Germany in a fiercely fought contest.