BIRMINGHAM: Pakistan’s wrestlers continued picking up medals at the Commonwealth Games but a gold proved elusive yet again on Saturday.
Mohammad Sharif Tahir, in his maiden international event, went closest at the Coventry Arena. But just like compatriot Inam Butt on Friday, he couldn’t get a final victory against an opponent from arch-rivals India.
Sharif lost 9-0 to Naveen Kumar in the 74kg final, his defeat coming moments after his team-mate Ali Asad had picked up bronze by swatting New Zealand’s Suraj Singh 11-0 in the 57kg competition.
Ali had earlier lost to cross-border rival Ravi Kumar and India domination of Pakistan in the ring was extended later in the evening when Tayyab Raza lost his 97kg bronze medal match 2-10 to Deepak Nehra.
The Pakistan trio had all advanced to the semi-finals in their respective categories but only Sharif was able to go through to the final.
After Pakistan’s top wrestler Inam had lost to Deepak Punia in the 86kg final, Sharif had a chance to get revenge for his country. But Naveen was dominant in the first period and did not let Sharif take any points. The Indian grappler took a 2-0 lead in the first period by pinning his opponent.
In the final three minutes, Naveen managed to hold his ground before pinning and rolling Sharif in the ring to walk away with a gold medal.
Sharif began his campaign with an 11-0 victory over Tonga’s John Vake in the round of 16 before overcoming Canadian Jasmit Singh Phulka 5-1 to reach the semis, where he overwhelmed Cole Hawkins 11-0 for a win by technical superiority.
Ali, meanwhile, had 10-0 wins in both his last-16 and quarter-final clashes against Harvey Ridings of England and Namibian Romio Ricardo Goliath, respectively. But he couldn’t advance to the final after falling 4-14 to Ravi.
Tayyab made a similar journey to the 97kg semis, blanking Rashji Mackey and Cameron Nicol 10-0 in his opening two rounds, but Nishan Randhawa proved too strong — the Canadian winning 7-0 on points.
With the wrestling programme concluding on Saturday, Tayyab became the only member from the Pakistan squad to return empty-handed after Inam and Zaman Anwar had earned silver medals and Inayatullah bronze on Friday. Pakistan’s only gold medal at the Games so far has been won by weightlifter Nooh Dastagir Butt.
Elsewhere, Pakistan’s wait for a first track and field medal at the Games since 1966 continued after Shajar Abbas finished last in the men’s 200m final at the Alexander Stadium on Saturday night.
Trinidad and Tobago’s Jereem Richards defended his title in a Games record time of 19.80 seconds. Shajar’s time was 21.16 seconds.
Published in Dawn, August 7th, 2022