Aman Sehrawat continued his dominant run at the senior level by defeating Almaz Smanbekov of Kyrgyzstan in the 57kg category to win India's first gold medal at the Asian Wrestling Championships 2023 in Astana, Kazakhstan on Thursday.
Sehrawat defeated Smanbekov 9-4 in the Asian Wrestling Championships final. Sehrawat, who trains at Delhi's prestigious Chhatrasal Stadium, beat Japan's Rikuto Arai 7-1 in the quarter-finals before defeating China's Zou Wanhao 7-4 in the semi-finals. Moreover, Sehrawat, who won the Under-23 World Championship last year, has secured a second podium finish in the 2023 season. He had also won a bronze medal at the Zagreb Open in February.
"I came here for the gold. There was no other ranking position I wanted to settle for. I made two mistakes in the final. I did watch Almaz's bouts before the final and figured that he relies a lot on counters. But I rushed to score. I thought to myself that I don't get tired easily so I kept trying to score. In the process, I got countered twice. After that, I put my head down and focused." Aman Sehrawat said after the final win.
Aman Sehrawat's victory in the Asian Wrestling Championships ensured the men's freestyle 57kg gold medal stayed with India for the fourth year running. Tokyo Olympics silver medallist Ravi Kumar Dahiya won the category in 2020, 2021, and 2022. However, Ravi had pulled out of this year's Asian Wrestling Championships with an injury and Aman Sehrawat replaced the Olympic medallist in the Indian contingent after earning his spot through selection trials. Incidentally, Ravi Dahiya, too, had defeated Japan's Rikuto Arai in his opening bout of the 2022 edition.
Meanwhile, two other Indian wrestlers also made it to the bronze medal bout on Thursday. Deepak Kukna (79kg) won bronze while Deepak Nehra (97kg) lost his bronze medal match. Deepak defeated Shuhrat Bozorov of Tajikistan in the bronze medal match with a 12-1 scoreline while Deepak Nehra lost his medal bout by a 12-9 margin to Makhsud Veysalov of Uzbekistan. Anuj Kumar (65kg) and Mulayam Yadav (70kg) also failed to make it to the medal rounds.
India has so far won 13 medals in the Asian Wrestling Championships competition. Greco-Roman wrestlers won four medals while women wrestlers won seven medals.