Bilal loses bronze medal fight as Pakistan ends Asian Wrestling Championship on disappointing note

By our correspondent

KARACHI: Pakistan wrapped-up their Asian Wrestling Championship journey on a disappointing note when the country’s top young wrestler Mohammad Bilal lost the bronze medal fight in Almaty, Kazakhstan, on Saturday.

Bilal, the cousin of the seasoned wrestler Mohammad Inam, played badly in the bronze medal fight against Japan’s Yuto Takeshita who won it 7-0.

Earlier, Bilal opened his 57 kilogramme journey in style when he got the better of Daulet Temirzhanov of Kazakhstan. The qualification clash had tied 8-8 but Bilal won it as he captured the final points. In the first round it was levelled 2-2. Daulet did well in the first one and a half minute of the second round and was leading 8-4. However Bilal staged a remarkable fightback and levelled the score 8-8 which earned for him a much-needed victory.

In the quarter-final Bilal lost to Alireza Nosratolah Sarlak of Iran 3-0.

The Iranian was tough but Bilal fought bravely against him before losing. However, Bilal was given a repechage fight in which he defeated Rozgeldi Seyidov of Turkmenistan 9-4 to set a bronze medal fight with Takeshita.

Meanwhile Haroon Abid failed to impress on his continental event’s debut when he went 6-1 down to the 2017 Asian bronze medallist Seo Min-Wan of South Korea in the 97 kilogramme qualification fight.

Both Bilal and Haroon would now be put in the camp in Lahore for their next month’s world qualifying round for Olympics to be held in Bulgaria.

Inam missed the Asian Championship because of a knee injury which he had developed in the Asian Qualifying round for Olympics also in Almaty a few days ago.

Commenting on Pakistan’s performance in the Asian Championship Pakistan Wrestling Federation(PWF) secretary Arshad Sattar said that Bilal played three very good fights.

“Bilal played well in his three fights but his bronze medal fight was very bad,” Arshad told this correspondent.

“The issue is that he lacks experience. We get little exposure but I am confident he will qualify for the Olympics next month through the world qualifiers in Bulgaria,” Arshad said.

“Haroon Abid had trained in Japan and we wanted to check him but he did not impress,” Arshad said.

Both Bilal and Haroon will feature in the next month’s Olympics world qualifiers in Bulgaria. The wrestlers will return on Monday (tomorrow) and will be put in the camp at the Punjab College Lahore for the world qualifiers.

“Training will be held in the night from 11pm to 1am,” Arshad said. The duo, who will be accompanied by Arshad as manager, will fly out of Lahore for Bulgaria on May 5 to take part in the world qualifiers to be hosted by Sofia from May 6-9.

The world qualifiers is the last chance for the national grapplers to earn Olympics seats.

Pakistani wrestlers had failed to earn an Olympics berth in the Asian qualifiers in Almaty a few days ago. The nation had skipped the 2019 World Championship due to financial issues. The global event also served as Olympics qualifiers.

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