Indian wrestlers who missed medals finishing fourth

August 20th, 2008 - 11:38 pm ICT by IANS  

Beijing, Aug 20 (IANS) It was the first time at the Olympic Games that two bronze medal were awarded in wrestling. Indian Sushil Kumar, given a reprieve after his first round loss, grabbed one of them gleefully coming through successfully from the Repechage bouts.In all wrestling competitions so far only three medals were awarded. If only the two bronzes were introduced earlier, India would have had more medals from the mat. In the past at least four Indians have finished fourth in wrestling and missed out a medal by a hair’s breadth.

In 1972 at Munich flyweight Sudesh Kumar and bantamweight Prem Nath, both disciples of Guru Hanuman Singh, finished fourth in their weight categories. Before them in Mexico City in 1968 Jagminder Singh was fourth in lightweight category.

Then in 1984, Rajinder Kumar had finished an agonising fourth in the 74 kg category in Los Angeles in 1984.

Apart from these four who were fourth, a few others finished fifth and sixth, too.

Full marks to Sushil Kumar for having coming back from the brink after losing the first round in the men’s 66 kg freestyle category. But Andriy Stadnik’s subsequent passage into the finals assured a second lease of life for the Indian and he grabbed it fully to claim a bronze medal.

The format for the wrestling competition at the Beijing Olympic Games was overhauled this time around. Hitherto, the wrestling competition was based on group matches in the first round and wrestlers would be eliminated on the basis of the negative points accumulated by them.

For the first time, the competition saw a knock-out system, which had a random draw for the first round. But in order to eliminate any anomaly resulting from two top contenders being pitted against each other in the very first round, a Repechage system was also introduced.

The knock-out system built up to the final.

The two bronze medallists come from the Repechage contests. All wrestlers who have been eliminated by the eventual finalists get a second chance to reach the bronze medal round by a series of Repechage matches.

The losing semi-finalists automatically go into the bronze medal matches and wrestle against the last two survivors of the Repechage.

In Wednesday’s bouts, Sushil Kumar came through two Repechage matches, while Leonid Spiridonov of Kazakhstan came straight into the bronze medal match. Sushil beat Spiridonov in the extra 30-second period invoked to break the tie in the third period of two minutes.

Four years ago, Spiridonov had finished fourth and was out of the medals in Athens. And this time around, he again missed the podium.

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