Ravi Dahiya on Thursday became only the second Indian wrestler to win a silver medal at the Olympic Games after he lost the men’s freestyle 57kg title clash 4-7 to reigning world champion Zavur Uguev.
There were expectations that the 23-year Dahiya would become India’s youngest Olympic champion but the Russian defended well to win comfortably. Dahiya had lost to Uguev at the 2019 World Championship also.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi also congratulated Dahiya for the silver and heaped praise on the wrestler’s fighting spirit and tenacity.
President Ram Nath Kovind said that India is proud of Dahiya for winning silver. “India is proud of Ravi Dahiya for winning the wrestling Silver at #Tokyo2020. You came back into bouts from very difficult situations and won them. Like a true champion, you demonstrated your inner strength too. Congratulations for the exemplary wins & bringing glory to India,” Kovind tweeted.
Modi also lauded the efforts of wrestler Deepak Punia who came agonisingly close to winning a bronze medal on his Olympic debut but conceded a take-down in the last 10 seconds of the 86kg play-off against San Marino’s Myles Nazem Amine to miss out on achieving the feat.
“Deepak Punia lost the Bronze narrowly but he has won our hearts. He is a powerhouse of grit and talent. My best wishes to Deepak for his future endeavours,” Modi tweeted.
Dahiya, the wrestler from Nahri village in Haryana had outclassed Colombia’s Tigreros Urbano (13-2) in his opener and then outwitted Bulgaria’s Georgi Valentinov Vangelov (14-4) in the quarterfinals.
In the semifinals, he erased a massive 2-9 deficit to pin Nurislam Sanayev. Sushil Kumar, who is now in jail on charges of a murder, is the only other Indian wrestler to have made the final at Olympics.
He had won a silver at the 2012 London Games, where Yogeshwar Dutt also won a bronze. Sushil had won a bronze at the 2008 Beijing Games.
India now have five Olympic medal-winning wrestlers. KD Jadhav had won a bronze in the 1952 Helsinki Games. Sakshi Malik had become the first woman wrestler to win an Olympic medal when she clinched a bronze at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
(With PTI Inputs)