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India's Medal Hopes Surge After Wrestlers Ravi Kumar, Deepak Punia Storm Into Tokyo Semis

© AFP 2021 / JACK GUEZBulgaria's Georgi Valentinov Vangelov (red) wrestles India's Kumar Ravi in their women's freestyle 57kg wrestling quarter final match during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Makuhari Messe in Tokyo on August 4, 2021
Bulgaria's Georgi Valentinov Vangelov (red) wrestles India's Kumar Ravi in their women's freestyle 57kg wrestling quarter final match during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Makuhari Messe in Tokyo on August 4, 2021 - Sputnik International, 1920, 04.08.2021
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Unlike track and field, where India is still waiting for its first Olympic medal, wrestling has been the country's biggest strengths in sports. Beginning with Sushil Kumar's medal in Beijing in 2008, wrestlers from the South Asian nation has captured at least one medal in three successive Games, including the London and Rio Olympics.
Wrestlers Ravi Kumar Dahiya and Deepak Punia raised India's medal hopes at the Tokyo Olympics on Wednesday, as both men sailed in the semifinals of their respective events.
While Ravi Kumar put up a dominant display, overcoming the challenge of Bulgaria's Vangelov Valentinov, 14-4, to cruise into the men's freestyle 57 kg semifinals, Deepak Punia outclassed Zushen Lin of China to book his berth in the last 4 stage of the 86 kg freestyle category.
Ravi Kumar and Deepak Punia's stellar performance came after the Indian wrestlers began their Tokyo campaign on a disappointing note, with Sonam Malik bowing out of the women's 62 kg freestyle category in the first round.
Ravi Kumar, who won a gold medal in the Asian Championships in June, started the match in style, racing to a 8-2 lead before powering his way past the Bulgarian 14-4 with the utmost ease.
Deepak Punia Wins Nail-biter vs China's Lin
Unlike Ravi Kumar, who had an easy time on the mat, Dahiya's contest against Lin wen down to the wire.
The Indian wrestler found himself under immense pressure right at the beginning of the contest as the Chinese matched him in almost every department of the game.
At one point the scores were tied at 3-3, with just about a minute to go in the match, leaving fans on the edge of their seats.
However, when push came to shove, Dahiya rose to the occasion, grabbing Lin's leg to secure a touchdown in the final 30 seconds and eventually seal the deal in his favour.
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