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April 12, 2021

Inam wins bronze but fails to grab Olympics spot


April 12, 2021

KARACHI: Pakistan’s seasoned wrestler Mohammad Inam kept Pakistan’s prestige when he won bronze medal despite a serious injury, beating Symbat Sulaimanov of Kyrgyzstan 10-7 in the repechage bronze medal 97kg fight in the Asian Qualifying round for Tokyo Olympics in Almaty, Kazakhstan, on Sunday.

However, Inam’s feat was not enough as he failed to make it to the Tokyo Olympics. And so was the fate of his partners, Mohammad Bilal and Haroon Abid, who also failed to qualify after losing their fights. The top two in each weight category were to qualify for the Olympics in the continental qualifiers.

Now Pakistan has one chance to press for Olympics seats and that is the World Qualifying round for Olympics to be hosted by Bulgaria in Sofia next month.

This is the first time that Pakistan won a medal in the Asian qualifying round in the country’s wrestling history. Inam’s cousin Mohammad Bilal had won bronze in the World Qualifying round for 2016 Rio Olympics which had been held in Turkey.

“It’s a huge blessing from God Almighty that I won a medal. I got injured in the quarter-final but I thought that we have come here and people back home have attached hopes with us so I made an effort and God rewarded me,” Inam told ‘The News’ from Almaty.

“You know for the last two years the federation did not get a single penny from the state. Even then it helped us and we also put some money and managed some training and through that we got a medal,” the two-time world beach wrestling champion said.

“As two in each weight were to qualify for Olympics, we could not do so but we still have an opportunity in Bulgaria in the world qualifying round and we will press for Olympics seats there,” Inam said.

Earlier in the day, Inam lost to the 2016 Rio Olympics bronze medallist Magomed Idrisovitch Ibragimov of Uzbekistan in the quarter-finals. Inam was seen feeling immense knee pain during the fight which the Uzbek, also a two-time Asian gold medallist, led 8-0 in the first round. The second round turned out to be a cool affair with Uzbek eventually emerging winner with the same score.

However, his fight with the top player enabled Inam to get a repechage bronze medal fight.

Pakistan Wrestling Federation’s (PWF) secretary Arshad Sattar was happy with Inam’s achievement. “It’s a morale boosting bronze medal win for Pakistan,” he told ‘The News’.

“Despite an injury, such a good performance could only be expected from a wrestler like Inam, with loads of experience. Inam did not want to fight but I encouraged him and told him if he had anything still in him to fight then he should avail himself of the opportunity and he did a commendable job,” Arshad said.

He said that he would request the Director General of Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) to hold a one-month camp for the top wrestlers ahead of the Bulgaria event.

Bilal went down fighting against Bekbolot Myrzanazar Uulu of Kyrgyzstan in the 57 kg quarter-finals. The Kyrgyz was leading 4-0 in the first round. Bilal in the second round made a stunning comeback, making it 4-4 before Bekbolot, also an Asian bronze medallist, secured two points to seal a close win.

“Bilal did well and we will remove his weaknesses during a month-long camp before sending him to Bulgaria,” Arshad said.

Japan-groomed Haroon Abid showed some guts before falling in both his fights in the 125kg weight category.

Haroon, nephew of great Jahara, went 10-15 down in the qualification fight to Munkhtur Lkhagvagerel of Mongolia. He was then beaten by Lazarev Aiaal of Kyrgyzstan 13-2 in the repechage fight.

Haroon was seen feeling stamina issues as he was leading the repechage fight 6-0 at one stage but he was not at his best in the second round in which his opponent took him to sword with some superb display.

“I think he did not get standard training in Japan. We will keep him with us for one month during the camp ahead of the world qualifying round and I hope we will be able to address his stamina issue,” Arshad said.

The trio will now feature in the Asian Championship also to be hosted by Almaty from April 13-18.