He had hoped to change the colour of his medal from the previous edition and Sajan duly managed to do the same, winning India’s first gold on the opening day of the junior Asian wrestling championships here on Tuesday. The host managed to add two silvers and a bronze in the five bouts during the day.

A bronze medallist in the 2017 edition, Sajan outplayed Iranian Shayan Hossein Afifi in the title clash of the 77kg category Greco-Roman bout 3-0. The first point was scored after the opponent was penalised for passivity and Sajan managed to throw Afifi out of the mat for two more in the first round. The scoreline stayed that way till the end.

“We had planned to keep him passive and not take control early on. We knew he would get tired and that is what happened,” Sajan said after the bout. The last 30 seconds saw the game stopped to treat a cut above his eye and also saw him get a caution but it didn’t affect the scoreline.

Accompanied by coach Naresh Balyan, the student of Pratapgarh Sports School, Kharkhoda in Haryana, the resident of Kasandi village is one of the few Indian wrestlers to not only start his career on the mat instead of the traditional mud akharas but also stick to Greco-Roman from the beginning. That, Balyan insisted, helped him get better than most Indians.

Silver for Vijay, Aryan

The other two Indians in finals — Vijay (55kg) and Aryan Panwar (130kg) — were unable to get the better of their Iranian opponents and finished with a silver. Sunil Kumar toyed with Hiroto Toyomura of Japan for a 10-0 win by technical superiority in the first round itself for a bronze in the 87kg category.

The other Indian in action — Manjeet (63kg) — lost his opening bout due to injury and did not return for the repechage rounds.

The results: Greco-Roman: 55kg: Pouya Mohammad Naserpour (Iri), Vijay (Ind), Arsalan Abdurakhmanov (Kaz) and Yeongwoo Jeong (Kor); 63kg: Bahram Tayyar Maroufkhani Imcheh (Iri), Kamol Kuziev (Kaz), Eldiiar Satarov (Kgz) and Tilek Assembayev (Kaz).

77kg: Sajan (Ind), Shayan Hossein Afifi (Iri), Temirlan Bekturdiev (Kgz) and Seunghwan Lee (Kor); Mohammadhadi Abdollah Saravi (Iri), Maimaiti Kaisaier (Chn), Sunil Kumar (Ind) and Sanzhar Temirbek (Kaz);

130kg: Amin Mohammadzaman Mirzazadeh (Iri), Aryan Panwar (Ind), Anton Savenko (Kaz) and Azmuddin Vakhobov (Tjk).

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