Wrestlers fail to impress as Pakistan end up 21st in Ashgabat

ASHGABAT: All hopes that Pakistan harboured about clinching some medals in wrestling at the 5th Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games were shattered on Tuesday when none of its six wrestlers could make it to the medal stage and got eliminated in the pre-quarter-finals here at the City Olympic Village.

Mohammad Inam in 86kg, Abdul Wahab in 61kg and Mohammad Bilal in 57kg all lost in the opening matches while the remaining three wrestlers — Azhar Hussain in 59kg, Shoukat Ali in 56kg and Mohammad Umair in 98kg in the Greece-Roman — failed to impress and were beaten in the second round.

In the first bout of the last-day proceedings, the 30-year-old Mohammad Umair of Pakistan lost to 20-year-old Sukhroj Azizov of Tajikistan. Sukhroj, a youngster who had fnished as the runner-up in the Asian Championship in Moscow, won the first round by defeating Umair who is a bronze medalist from the last year’s Commonwealth Championship and fifth position holder of the Islamic Solidarity Games at Baku in 2017.

In the second bout 21-year old Aidos Sullangali of Kazakhstan beat 33-year-old Pakistani wrestler Azhar Hussain in just 44sec.

Aidos, the Asian Cadet champion and junior Asian champion, was in superb form and gave no time to Azhar to settle down.

In the last bout of the day, the 19-year-old Ul Yamato of Japan beat Shoukat Ali of Pakistan, also a 19-year-old, within 50 seconds and won the bout 10-0.

Before facing Shoukat, the Japanese wrestler had recorded victory against a Philippines wrestler in the quarter-finals while Shoukat Ali had got a direct entry to the semis.

There were lots of expectations from the Pakistan wrestling squad keeping in view their experience but none of them could fulfil them. Some experts have called for younger wrestlers to be groomed for international events since almost all the wrestlers in the current squad except Shoukat have advanced in age and are not adept with the modern techniques of the sport.

“Pakistan should introduce younger, fresh talent rather than rely on old wrestlers,” said an expert.

“The game of wrestling has drastically changed now and slow and bulky wrestlers cannot move faster to match their competitors. Aerobics and modern techniques have been introduced in the world of wrestling and Pakistan should work on the same lines if it wishes to remain in the medals race in the future events,” he said.

Pakistan’s 135-member contingent took part in nine disciplines and finished the game at the 21st position with a total of 21 medals including two gold, three silver and 16 bronze medals. Pakistan won medals in the athletic, belt wrestling, ju-jitsu, snooker, and kick boxing.