Rathi, Deepak clinch gold
New Delhi: Sachin Rathi scripted a sensational turn around in the final bout while Deepak Puniya asserted his supremacy without fuss as India won two gold and as many bronze medals in the freestyle competition on the concluding day of the Junior Asian Wrestling Championship, here on Sunday.
On the last day of the championship, four of the five Indian wrestlers reached the medal round with Suraj Rajkumar Kokate (61kg) and Mohit (125kg) winning bronze medals.
The only one to miss out was Somveer Singh in the 92kg category.
India, with 173 points, finished second in the team championship behind Iran (189 points). Uzbekistan finished third with 128 points.
Rathi won the first gold of the day for India in the 74kg with a sensational turn around against Mongolia's Bat-Erdene Byambasuren in the gold medal match.
Rathi trailed 2-5 after the first period and then lagged behind 2-9 in the second but from there he turned the bout on its head and pinned his opponent to claim the gold.
"I knew I could win. My coach told me that I have to fight every second. I had the confidence to win gold despite trailing by many points. I just did not give up. It was more of a mental challenge after conceding such lead and I did it," he said.
India junior coach Maha Singh Rao said, I had advised him to not let the Mongolian fight from a distance. From there he was very attacking. I expected gold from him. He had it in him. In-form Deepak Punia then expectedly won the gold comfortably in the 86kg category. In the gold medal bout he fought with Turkmenistan's Azat Gajyyev and won on technical superiority.
The 2016 World Cadet Champion's only big challenge was Iran's Seyedsajjad Seyedmehdi Seyedi but he beat him easily 8-2. He also beat Kazkahstan's Daniyar Meldebek (11-0) and Japan's Kairi Yagi (16-6) en route the final. Puniya had come into the tournament after winning bronze at Tbilisi Grand Prix in Georgia, where celebrated Sushil Kumar had lost his first bout in four year.
It was easy for me as I had the experience of competing in the senior championship also, said Puniya, who hails from Sara village in Jhajjar district of Haryana.
In an exciting battle with Japan's Yuto, India's Suraj Rajkumar Kokate erased a four-point lead to eke out a 16-8 win to claim a bronze in the 61kg category.
Suraj leveled the score with an impressive 'kalaganj' (ankle-pick). Before the first period ended, he had taken a 8-4 lead.
The Japanese was though not in a mood to let it go and leveled back the scores 8-8 with consecutive gut wrench moves. However, from there Suraj never looked back and logged 8 more points to finish the bout in his favour.
"I had seen his bouts, so I was prepared how to tackle him," said Suraj, who is now targeting a good show at the Junior World Championship.
Junior India coach Rao said he was expecting a gold from Suraj but small mistakes made the difference.
Suraj had lost his semi-final 6-9 to Kazakhstan's Syrbaz Talgat.
Mohit, meanwhile, fought for bronze in the 125kg against Mongolia's Bat Erdene Erdenebaatar and won it by technical superiority.
In the 92kg, Somveer Singh could not reach the medal round after losing his close third round 2-3 Japan's Takuma Otsu.