Las Vegas, Sep 13 (IANS) Narsingh Pancham Yadav clinched bronze in the men’s Freestyle 74kg category to open India’s account at the World Wrestling Championships here.
Yadav, who also secured a quota place for next year’s Rio Olympics in the process, defeated Zelimkhan Khadjiev of France in the bronze medal match after effecting a stunning comeback here on Saturday evening.
The top six wrestlers in each weight category qualify for the Olympics. As per rules, an Olympic berth is awarded to the country concerned and not the wrestler who might have clinched it.
Narsingh’s performance was the only bright spot in an otherwise disappointing day for the Indian contingent as Amit Kumar (57kg), Arun Kumar (70kg) and Sumit (125kg) could not progress beyond the quarter-finals of their respective weight categories.
Narsingh began the bronze-medal bout strongly, executing two take-downs on his way to a 4-2 lead. Khadjiev began in a rather slow fashion, but gradually fought back. In the second period, the French wrestler picked up the pace with three quick take-downs to take a massive 12-4 lead.
With the match seemingly done and dusted with just 40 seconds on the clock, the Indian bounced back in incredible fashion.
A perfectly worked headlock took Khadjiev by surprise and Narsingh finished off the move by executing an astute fall which handed him an impressive victory and a very creditable bronze.
Earlier, the 26-year-old Narsingh began his campaign in roaring fashion, brushing off the challenge from Hanoc Rachamin of Israel 14-2 in the opening round.
He continued in the same vein in the next round, defeating European Games silver medallist Soner Demirtas of Turkey 4-2 to move into the quarter-finals where he ovepowered Cuba’s Livan Lopez 16-5.
In the semi-finals, the Mumbai lad took on Mongolia’s Unurbat Purevjav. In a very close bout, Narsingh led the Mongol 4-3 till the last five seconds.
But Purevjav pulled level in the dying seconds by pushing Narsingh outside the mat and picking up a point. The Mongol thus qualified for the final by virtue of having picked up the last point.
Despite missing out on the final, Narsingh was in high spirits after securing the bronze medal.
“It is an incredible feeling. I was doing well all through the day. Luck wasn’t on my side when I faced the Mongolian wrestler. I was really disappointed with what happened in the semi-final but the determination to pick up a medal was always there,” he said.
“Winning by fall is perhaps the sweetest victory that a wrestler can achieve and there is no better feeling than winning a medal for your country.”
Amit started off in promising fashion with a hard fought 6-4 win over Sezar Akgul of Turkey before being edged out 1-2 by Viktor Lebedev of Russia.
Arun, meanwhile, outclassed Tat Du Can of Vietnam 7-0 in the first round. He survived a tough challenge from Semen Radulov, ekeing out a 5-4 result over the Ukrainian.
But he was no match for local favourite James Malcolm Green in the quarter-finals, going down 0-10.
In the 125kg category, Sumit lost 0-3 to Aiaal Lazarev of Kyrgyzstan in the pre-quarter-finals.