Wrestling Olympic trials: Sandeep Singh Mann stands tall in 74kg freestyle division

The national champion beat Amit Dhankar in the final and will represent India at the Asian Olympic qualifiers next month. Narsingh Yadav lost to Sandeep Singh in the semis.

By Naveen Peter

National champion wrestler Sandeep Singh Mann will represent India at the Asian Olympic qualifiers to be held in Almaty, Kazakhstan from April 9-11 following his win at the national trials on Tuesday.

The wrestler from Punjab beat former Asian champion Amit Dhankar 2-1 in the final to earn his right to compete in the highly-competitive 74kg freestyle category.

Two-time Olympic medallist Sushil Kumar chose to give the national trials a skip. The battle for a place in the Indian team was between Sandeep Singh, Amit Dhankar, former world championships medallist Narsingh Yadav and Jitender Kumar.

Sandeep Singh beat Narsingh Yadav 4-3 in the semi-finals. The two had previously met in the final of the senior national championship in January where Sandeep had prevailed.

The final was a cagey affair where Sandeep Singh used his skills to good effect and put up a strong show to down the 30-year-old Amit Dhankar. 

Meanwhile, the bouts in the 97kg and the 135kg freestyle divisions panned out on expected lines with Satyawart Kadian and Sumit Malik securing their spots for the Asian qualifiers, respectively.

The Greco-Roman category will see Gyanendra (60kg), Ashu (67kg), Gurpreet Singh (77kg), Sunil Kumar (87kg), Ravi (97kg) and Naveen (130kg) competing for a place at the Tokyo Olympics.

Naveen has been in good touch of late. He had bagged a bronze medal at the Matteo Pellicone Rome Ranking meet earlier this month.

If the Indian wrestlers fail to secure a quota place for Tokyo 2020 at the Asian qualifiers, they will have to bank on the world Olympic qualifiers in Sofia, Bulgaria from May 6-9.

So far, India has secured four quota places for the Tokyo Games. Bajrang Punia (freestyle 65kg), Ravi Kumar Dahiya (freestyle 57kg) and Deepak Punia (freestyle 86kg) have secured the spots in the men’s half while Vinesh Phogat (53kg) is the only quota winner among Indian women.

The date for the trials to select the women’s team for the Asian Olympic qualifiers is yet to be announced.