It was a gripping Wednesday for India at the Tokyo Olympics, and Ravi Kumar Dahiya led the charge. The wrestler registered a sensational triumph against Kazakhstan’s Nurislam Sanayev in the freestyle 57 kg semifinal bout and grappled his way into Thursday’s final against Russia’s Zaur Uguev. India is assured of a silver.
Trailing 2-9, Dahiya reduced the deficit to 7-9 before pinning his opponent down; he was eventually declared ‘winner by fall’. The 23-year-old from Haryana became the second Indian wrestler to qualify for an Olympic final, his predecessor being Sushil Kumar at the London Games in 2012.
Dahiya’s effort capped a remarkable day for the Indian contingent in which its medal hopes never waned. Lovlina Borgohain lost the women’s welterweight (64-69 kg) semifinal to Turkey’s Busenaz Surmeneli, but the boxer from Assam already had the bronze in her kitty by virtue of having qualified for the last-four stage.
Bronze would be the target for the women’s hockey team too after its 1-2 defeat to in the semifinal. In Friday’s third place play-off, India will play Great Britain.
India’s medal hopes gained a fillip through Neeraj Chopra’s maiden throw of 86.65m in javelin. It ensured his qualification for the final. The automatic qualification was pegged at 83.5m and Neeraj went past that without fuss.