New Delhi: India's Gurpreet Singh and Sandeep lost their bronze medal Greco-Roman bouts on the opening day of the Asian Wrestling Championships in Almaty on Tuesday.
In the 77kg semi-final bout, Singh lost 5-0 to Kairatbek Tugolbaev of Kazakhstan, while Sandeep went down fighting to Nurmukhammet Abdullaev of Kyrgyzstan 5-11 in the 55 kg semi-final contest.
The biggest setback for the Indian team came in the 87kg. Defending champion Sunil Kumar lost his opening bout to World bronze-medallist Rustam Assakalov of Uzbekistan.
However, Assakalov's bid to enter the gold medal round was dashed by Iran's Naser Alizadeh who defeated him 10-4 in the semis.
On the not so encouraging performance, chief coach Hargobind Singh said that the contests were close.
"The competition is tough. Our wrestlers tried their best but weren't able to click at the right moment," he told IANS from Almaty.
In a nail-biting quarter-final match, Singh lost to Iran's Poshtam Pejman 7-7 but made it to the bronze medal bout through repechage as Pejman had made the gold medal bout.
The Indian team coach said Singh couldn't recover from the Asian Olympic qualifier held at the same venue on April 9.
In the Asian Olympic qualifiers, five Greco-Roman wrestlers were close to earning tickets to Tokyo Olympics but bowed out in the semi-final stage.
Only the two finalists in each weight category were allotted Olympic quota places.
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