Wrestling Nationals throw new challenge at Sushil Kumar, Rahul Aware

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Men’s free style competition on Day One of the Tata Motors Senior National Wrestling Championships has thrown fresh challenge to veterans Sushil Kumar and Rahul Aware, both giving a bye to the biggest domestic competition of Indian kushti (national wrestling).

Two new stars have emerged on the national wrestling freestyle horizon in World Under-23 Wrestling Championship silver medallist Ravinder Kumar, the new 61 kg national champion, and Gaurav Baliyan, who won the 74 kg crown on the opening day of the nationals at Jalandhar. Two new contenders have arrived in Sushil Kumar and Rahul Aware’s weight category.

While legendry Sushil has lived his prime, Baliyan is a rising star. Ravinder Kumar has given glimpses of giving Aware a run for his worth. Only if the two proven stars were in fray, the 61kg and 74 kg freestyle competitions at the Nationals would have been much more exciting.

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Ravinder wins national gold in 61kg

A month after winning the silver medal at the U-23 World Championships, Ravinder came into the Nationals as the favourite for the 61 kg title. Senior World Championship bronze medallist Aware had decided to skip the nationals. However, Sonaba Tanaji, Suraj Kokate and Rohan from Haryana were the worthy contenders. The 23-year-old Ravinder, who was out of action for two years due to knee surgery, proved to be too good for the rest of the field. Ravinder won all his five bouts including the final by the technical superiority – a ten point clear lead over his rivals.

“I have won the Senior National (Championship) gold for the first time. It will be a great boost for me. I will now prepare for the tougher challenges ahead.”

Aware is India’s undisputed champion in the 74 category. But the rapid strides Ravinder is making for the last few months will make him great challenger to Aware’s domination.

Gaurav Baliyan the most impressive

If there were one most impressive wrestler on the Day 1 of the competition, it undisputedly was the 180year-old Baliyan from Uttar Pradesh. Just few months back Baliyan had won the U2-3 National Championships in Shirdi and now this youngster has the Senior National gold in his kitty.

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Baliyan was supremely impressive in the 74kg category as he upset the favourite Praveen Rana in the final. Baliyan rallied t0 prevail over the fancied Ranan 5-3 and become one of the youngest national wrestling champions.

“I just wanted to wrestle in my sense and not think too much,” Baliyan said. “It was a great competition for me and to win the gold is great in a tough final. Overall, it was a great tournament.”

Baliyan was impressive right from the start. Ladu Jat of Rajasthan was no match for him before he moved past Arjun Yadav of the Railways. Tougher competition was expected in the quarter-finals and semi-finals but Baliyan was up for the challenge. Haryana’s second-best in the category and junior Asian champion Parveen Malik was humbled 12-2. Mukul Mishra met the same fate as Baliyan roared into the final.

The 74KG category over the years has been dominated by Indian kushti’s most decorated yodha Sushil Kumar. The youngster is giving glimpses of posing tough challenge the greatest yodhas of Indian kushti (wrestling).

The Tata Motors National Wrestling Championship is broadcast LIVE on www.wrestlingtv.in.

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