Wrestler Hardeep books Rio Olympics berth

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Image Courtesy: © Youtube - United World Wrestling

Wrestler Hardeep books Rio Olympics berth

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Arun S Kaimal

03/20/2016

Following in the footsteps of Yogeshwar Dutt in freestyle wrestling, Hardeep won a surprise Olympic berth for India on Sunday in the 98kg category Greco-Roman wrestling after winning silver. Hardeep lost to China's Di Xiao in the final of Asian Olympics Qualification championship.

Hardeep defeated Arslan Saparmammedov of Turkmenistan 11-0 in the quarter-final and Margulan Assembekov of Kazakhstan 11-2 in the semis to advance to the final. The Indian qualified for the Olympics in the 98kg category Greco-Roman wrestling, which is not India’s forte, by virtue of making it into the last two. In the final, Hardeep lost to China's Di Xiao by injury default to win a silver. 

Hardeep is the third Indian wrestler to qualify for the Olympics and the first in Greco-Roman wrestling. In freestyle wrestling, Yogeshwar Dutt had confirmed an Olympic spot for India yesterday after winning the gold in the 65kg category, while Narsingh Pancham Yadav had secured an Olympic spot back in September last year after winning the bronze medal in the 2015 World Wrestling Championships.

(Read about the best hopes of India at the Asian Olympic qualifiers)

In the Women’s 48kg category, India’s hopes of an Olympic spot went up in smokes when Vinesh Phogat crashed out in the semi-final after losing to Zhuldyz Eshimova of Kazakhstan 4-5 in a close bout. But, she overcame the disappointment of missing out on the Olympics berth and won the bronze medal defeating Uzbekistan's Dauletbike Yakhshimuratova 10-0. In the Women's 63kg category, Anita also won a bronze defeating Nilufar Gadaeva of Uzbekistan 10-0. 

(Take a look at the Indian squad for the Olympic qualifiers)

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