New Delhi: Amit Kumar Dhankar delivered the last hurrah for India in the Senior Asian Wrestling Championship by clinching a gold, as the hosts finished with their best ever showing in the continental event on Monday.
India emerged on top in freestyle category with two gold and as many bronze medals. Overall, India finished the championships with nine medals -- 2 gold, one silver and 6 bronze, their best ever performance. Indian grapplers had won one gold and four bronze in the last edition of the championship in South Korea.
Amit (66kg) defeated Mongolia's M Ganzorig in an exciting summit battle with every move drawing loud cheers from the spectators at the K D Jadhav Wrestling Stadium. However, Narsingh Pancham Singh (84kg) missed out on a bronze medal after being beaten in the third-place bout.
The Mongolian started the final bout against Amit on the offensive and was quick to attack the local favourite. He took the first period 1-0. Amit came back strongly to take the lead in the second period. He then rolled Gangzorig and took the bout into the final set.
The 24-year-old Indian dragged his opponent out of the playing area to bag the first point. The score was levelled soon as the Mongolian was handed a caution point after foul play from Amit. The Haryana lad scored one point to take a 2-1 lead. The Mongolian team made an unsuccessful challenge of the point awarded to hand the Indian a 3-1 lead.
The visitor tried hard and secured a point in the dying moments but the final hooter signalled the end of sensational bout. Amit conquered the mat 0-1 4-0 3-2 to bag the second gold for the freestyle team. "I wanted to win a medal as it was a home event. I had done hard practice for this event. And I am happy that I have delivered on the expectations," Amit said after his win.
Amit, who replaced star Indian wrestler Sushil Kumar, had a similar semifinal bout, where he came from behind to prevail upon Uzbekistan's Ruslan Pliev 0-1 4-4 4-0. Ruslan took the first period in the final seconds much to the disappointment of the local fans. The Uzbek started the next period on a high and took a 2-0 lead. He further went on to tighten his grip on the bout by advancing the score in his favour -- 4-0.
Just when it looked the semifinal was going one way, Amit made a splendid comeback and completed a successful throw down in the last 30 seconds to extend the bout to final set. Ruslan looked in a bit of a discomfort after he sustained a shoulder injury in the process. In the final period, Amit twice dragged his opponent out of the mat to take complete control of the bout. He then put on a fine display of attacking moves to take a 4-0 lead. With 30 seconds left, injured Ruslan conceded the bout as he looked in unbearable pain.
Amit first overcame Jianfu Zhang of China and followed it up by a clinical win against Kyrgyzstan's Ulukman Mamatov to set up a semifinal clash. Earlier, in the 84kg freestyle category, Narsingh was beaten in the quarterfinals by Uzbekistan's Umidjon Ismanov.
But he was handed an opportunity to go for bronze after the Uzbek entered the final. The 2010 Asian champion in the 74kg category thrashed Ali Husham Majeed 6-0 8-0 to set up a bronze medal bout. Meanwhile, the overall second position in the freestyle wrestling went to Iran team while Mongolia secured third place.
In women's event, first position went to China, Japan came second while Mongolia finished third. Korea was followed by Iran and Kazakhstan in the overall Greco Roman wrestling. Meanwhile, star Indian grappler Sushil Kumar commended the performance of the Indians in the championship. "Our wrestling is on the ascendancy and it has been proved by our wrestlers. So many medals in the competition is good sign for our future," Sushil, who had come to watch the event h