BIRMINGHAM: The country’s premier wrestler, Muhammad Inam, on Friday failed to defend his title and settled for the silver medal.
Zaman Anwar, another Pak wrestler, also claimed silver and young wrestling sensation Inayatullah secured bronze on the opening day of the two-day men’s freestyle wrestling competitions of the Commonwealth Games here at the Coventry Arena.
The outcome also took Pakistan’s medal tally to five, which includes one gold, two silvers and two bronze. Two-time Commonwealth Games champion Inam was dethroned by the 2019 World Championship silver medallist and Haryana-born Deepak Punia of India 3-0 after a tough fight in the 86kg final. After going 0-3 down, Inam made a severe last-ditch effort but was unable to get points.
“In the semi-finals I got injured and so could not play as per plans. Deepak played well,” Inam told The News. Earlier, Inam was off to an impressive start to his title defence when he downed debutant Kieron Molon of Scotland in the pre-quarter-finals 11-0 inside four minutes. Inam, then, whacked Australia’s Jayden Lawrence in the quarter-finals. Inam, already having two Commonwealth Games golds in his pocket, overcame stiff resistance from Jayden and sealed an 8-3 victory. At one stage, it was 2-2 but Inam did a fine job to show his superiority as a seasoned grappler of the Commonwealth zone.
Inam, also having four world beach wrestling titles, defeated young Edwards Lessing of South Africa 5-3 in the semi-final. Inam took an early point but stout Edwards levelled it 1-1. Edwards then claimed 3-1 lead before Inam staged a fightback to level the score. Inam then took two more points to win the show.
Meanwhile, in the 125kg final Pakistan’s surprise package Zaman was undone 9-2 by Amarveer Dhesi of Canada, a former world junior champion. Zaman had to content with a silver, the first major medal for the talented heavyweight wrestler. Zaman, earlier, got off to a solid start when he defeated Kinsley Marie Anthony of Mauritius 12-0 in the quarter-final in only two minutes and 20 seconds. Zaman then whacked England’s Mandhir Kooner 5-0 to advance into the title clash. Inayatullah, Youth Olympics bronze medallist, beat Scotland’s Ross Connelly 10-0 in the 65kg bronze medal clash to add to Pakistan’s tally.
“Thanks God, I am extremely happy with the achievement,” Inayat told The News. “I fell down in the semi-finals against the Canadian and could not recover. It’s part of the game,” said Inayat, who received a cut just below his ear.
Earlier Inayatullah outclassed Malta’s star Adam Villa 10-0 to qualify for the quarter-finals. Peshawar-born grappler dominated the fight and applied solid tricks to topple his opponent in only two minutes and 15 seconds.
Inayat, who had plastered left-arm’s little fingers, then whacked Olympian Amas Danial of Nigeria 4-0 to blast his way into the semi-finals. It was a tough fight. The Nigerian, who had featured in the 2016 Rio Olympics, gave little room to Pakistan’s young star.
However, Inayat grabbed two points each in both sessions to lift the show. Inayat then failed to impress in the semi-finals when he was outclassed by Lachlan McNeil of Canada 11-0. On the final day on Saturday (today) Ali Asad (57kg), Mohammad Sharif Tahir (74kg) and the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Tayyab Raza will also press for medals.
After a few bouts in the morning, the session was stopped for safety and security checks. It took almost an hour to re-install the speaker, which an official of the gym told The News, had fallen.
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