Gold Coast, April 12: On the first day of wrestling competition at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, India’s Sushil Kumar, Rahul Aware have won gold in the men’s freestyle 74kg and 57kg receptively, while Babita Kumari claimed silver in the women’s 53kg freestyle final. Earlier, wrestler Kiran had outplayed Katouskia Pariadhaven of Mauritius 10-0 to win bronze in the women’s 76kg freestyle as well, at Gold Coast in Australia on Thursday.
Sushil did it in style as he won with a 10-0 scoreline, by technical superiority against Johannes Botha of South Africa in just 80 seconds. This is Sushil’s third CWG gold following gold medals in the 66kg event in 2010 and 74kg event in 2014. Sushil’s golden effort has taken India’s overall tally at the Gold Coast Games to 29.
Two-time Olympic medallist Sushil advanced to the gold medal match after winning three one-sided bouts at the Carrara Sports Arena. The celebrated Indian wrestler, who won the Commonwealth Championships last December, looked in menacing form as he took down his opponents with ease.
It was Connor Evans of Australia who came out charging at the start but Sushil soon got the measure of his opponent and pinned him down. He won two technical points in the first 50 seconds before finishing the match pinning Evans to the mat. The thrashing of the Aussie left the host fans stunned and for the jubilant Indian fans it was all over too fast.
The Indian showed no mercy to his quarterfinal opponent too as he beat Pakistan’s Muhammed Asad Butt by technical superiority. Sushil scored six points in the first period and four more a minute into the second session to book his place in the final. Earlier, in the first round, Sushil beat Jevon Balfour of Canada.
This is the first CWG medal for Aware, 26, who in 2011 won gold at the Commonwealth Championships and an Asian Championships bronze, and Babita’s third consecutive medal at the CWG.
In a gripping final bout against Canada’s Steven Takahashi, Aware won 15-7 despite struggling with injury in the latter half. After showing visible discomfort while on his back, Aware roared back with a very strong second round and defeated Takahashi.
One of 45 athletes who are given financial aid under the Indian government’s Target Olympic Podium program, the Kolhapur-based wrestler had missed out on a berth for the 2016 Rio Olympics. Today’s gold will mean the world to him, given the circumstances that combined to see his Olympic dreams dashed two years ago. (Agencies)