Khatri, Dhankar steal show; Deepak Punia takes bronze in Tata Motors 63rd Senior National Championship

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Amit Dhankar, the seasoned campaigner and former Asian medalist showed that he still has enough left in his armour by emerging champion in the 74kg during the Tata Motors Senior National Wrestling Championship, concluded here on Sunday.

Dhankar, a Commonwealth Champion, took his opponents by surprise when he mixed his tactics, aggression mixed with solid defence to bag his seventh National title in the men’s freestyle championship.

The Haryana grappler beat SSCB’s Vinod Kumar 5-1 to seal the medal. Dhankar, in absence of Sushil Kumar, who skipped the Nationals feels ready to claim the 74 Kg berth and is confident his gold medal pursuit will help him to get a National call.

“I am happy with the way I fought in the tournament. Sushil bhai guided me before coming here. He is my idol and I am hopeful I will get a chance for the World Championship next year, the 31year old wrestler said after the win.

Railway’s Praveen Rana and Delhi’s Pradeep Tomar; fighting in the same category settled for Bronze medal.

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In the 61kg final, Railways’ Rahul Aware emerged champion with a dominating 10-0 win over Goa’s Abhimnayu Yadav. Aware applied four straight gut wrench moves in a row.

Though the day’s most exciting bout happened to be between Haryana’s Mousam Khatri as he held off Satyawart Kadiyan 3-0 to claim gold in the 97kg.

Kadiyan though displayed spirited enthusiasm along with two brave leg attacks but Mousam with his solid defence escaped unscathed and displayed one of his best fight in recent time.

Young Deepak Punia, who is making transition to senior level had to settle for a bronze medal after losing in the semifinals in the 86kg category.

Punia, the junior World silver medallist and junior Asian Champion and tipped to be future star, had tough initial rounds and later managed a push-out point to move into the semi-finals after defeating Sanjeet.

Punia though was taken in for complete surprise as he was knocked out by Railways’ Parveen in just 38 seconds. Punia later claimed a bronze with commanding 11-0 win over Hitesh in the play-off.

In the thrilling final, eventually Parveen defeated Pawan Kumar, 5-2 to take gold in 86kg category.

In the 65kg category, Indian Air Force’s Harphul Gulia claimed his second national gold with a 10-4 win over Haryana’s Parveen. He had won the last Nationals in 2016.

“I was desperate to win this gold and put up a good show. I want to focus now on international level and qualifying for the Asian Championship will be my first target for next season,” said the Air Force grappler.

Railways yet again dominated the nationals, claimed the team title with 198 points and were followed by SSCB (133) and Haryana (123).

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