Aman Sehrawat goes down in Asian Olympic Qualifiers, India's quota drought continues - Hindustan Times

Aman Sehrawat goes down in Asian Olympic Qualifiers, India's quota drought continues

By, New Delhi
Apr 19, 2024 10:32 PM IST

With Deepak (86kg) and Sujeet Kalkal (65kg) failing to make the weigh-ins, all hopes were on Aman to win a quota but the 57kg wrestler was done in by Abdullaev

Two minutes and 17 seconds is all it took for Gulomjon Abdullaev to pin India's brightest quota hope Aman Sehrawat in the 57kg freestyle semi-final of the ongoing Asian Olympic Qualifiers in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan to ensure the six-member men's team returns empty handed from the penultimate Paris qualifier.

Aman, the 2023 Asian champion, was the only Indian to go past the quarter-final stage.(India_AllSports)
Aman, the 2023 Asian champion, was the only Indian to go past the quarter-final stage.(India_AllSports)

Aman, the 2023 Asian champion, was the only Indian to go past the quarter-final stage. The 20-year-old began well, beating Kazakhstan's Yerassyl Mukhtaruly 10-0 in his first bout and followed it with an 11-1 rout of South Korea's 34-year-old Sunggwon Kim.

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Aman, however, met his match in Abdullaev. The 25-year-old seasoned Uzbek was always going to a be a tricky opponent for the Indian. The semi-final bout was also a battle of styles with Abdullaev's ultra-aggressive methods against Aman who likes to mount his attacks in the second period. It is an area that Aman has been diligently working on, but on Friday, Abdullaev gave him no chance.

The Uzbek attacked Aman's right leg and effected a single-leg takedown in the first minute itself and soon threatened to run away with the bout after grabbing both his legs. Aman barely warded off the attack before the relentless Abdullaev came roaring back with a four-point duckunder. A shocked Aman tried some feeble attacks but Abdullaev's defence was up to the task. He ended the contest by pinning Aman and pocketing the Paris quota.

"Abdullaev was the only real challenger that Aman had. It was a great chance to win the quota. Unfortunately, nothing worked for him. He couldn't apply any techniques nor fight the way he usually does," Aman's coach at Delhi's Chhatrasal Stadium, Lalit Kumar, said.

Abdullaev had beaten Tokyo silver medallist Ravi Dahiya in Poland Open final back in 2021 after going down to him earlier in the competition. "He has always had a measure of Indians. He did beat an in-form Ravi in Poland which is not easy," the coach added.

Aman's plan, going into the semi-final, was to take the bout to the second period. Abdullaev's attacking game means he usually expends too much energy in the first three minutes which makes him vulnerable in the back end of the bouts. "The idea was to fight the full bout, but Aman just couldn't recover from early attacks," Lalit said.

Aman, who was also carrying a niggle in his groin and hamstring, didn't look properly warmed-up to the coach. "His body looked quite stiff. He needs a warm-up bout before stepping on the mat. His warm-up routines are quite intense. But since none of the Indian boys reached the semis, he could not spar before his bout," the coach added.

The day began on a disappointing note for India with Deepak Punia (86kg) and Sujeet Kalkal (65kg) missing the qualifiers. The duo had spent two nights at the Dubai International Airport following flight cancellations due to inclement rains in the city. They eventually boarded around midnight local time — the flight was delayed by about two hours — and landed in Bishkek by 8:15 am. They reached the competition venue by 9 am, half an hour after the weigh-ins ended, and despite earnest requests from the coaches, were not granted any relief. Members of the travelling contingent believe WFI could have reached out to UWW and sought an exemption.

Indian wrestlers now have the World Qualifiers in May to aim for, the last quota event for the Paris Games. Saturday will witness the women's competitions with Vinesh Phogat (50kg), Anshu Malik (57kg), and Radhika (76kg) carrying India's hopes.

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    Shantanu Srivastava is an experienced sports journalist who has worked across print and digital media. He covers cricket and Olympic sports.

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