Sumit Malik became the fourth Indian men's freestyle wrestler to qualify for the Tokyo Games when he reached the 125kg final at the World Olympic Qualifiers in Sofia, Bulgaria on Thusday.
Malik joined Ravi Dahiya (57kg), Bajrang Punia (65kg) and Deepak Punia (86kg) in India's men's freestyle squad bound for the Tokyo Olympics.
This is the first time that 28-year-old Malik, who is a 2018 Commonwealth Games gold medalist, has made the cut for the Olympics.
The finalists at this competition qualify for the Tokyo Games.
Unlike his previous bouts, Malik was aggressive from the beginning in the crucial semifinal, which he won 5-0 against Venezuela's Jose Daniel Diaz Robertti.
However, Amit Dhankar (74kg) and Satyawart Kadian (97kg) failed to earn a quota after losing at different stages of the competition.
In his 125kg Qualification bout against Kyrgyzstan's Aiaal Lazarev, Malik was trailing 1-2 till the last 25 seconds but got a push-out point towards the end and won on criteria, with the scores tied at 2-2.
His next bout was against Moldova's Alexandr Romanov. He trailed 0-1 after losing a point on passivity.
In the second period, he lost another point when he was pushed out by his opponent but as has been his strategy -- Malik attacked in the closing stage of the bout -- pulling off a two-point throw to make it even and finally winning 3-2.
In the quarterfinal against Tajikistan's Rustam Iskandari, Malik was in trouble at one stage as he trailed 2-4 after leading 2-0 but he logged four two-pointers to win easily.
On the other hand, Dhankar lost his Qualification bout 6-9 to Moldova's Mihail Sava. After trailing 0-4, Dhankar put up a spirited fight in the second period, but the Moldovan was up to the task.
Dhankar's defeat means that India will go unrepresented in the 74kg category at the Tokyo Games.
Kadian won his pre-quarterfinal 5-2 against Evan Amadour Ramos from Puerto Rico. He led 3-0 in the first period, but a take-down move by his rival threatened his chances before the Indian got another two-pointer to win easily.
In the quarterfinal against Bulgaria's Ahmed Sultanovich Bataev, Kadian blew away a 5-1 lead to go out of the competition as he lost the bout on criteria, conceding four points in the last 20 seconds.
Kadian trailed after the first period, losing a point for passivity. In the second period, he scored five points in a row, starting with a passivity point and following that up with two push-outs and a two-point throw.
However, the Bulgarian turned the tide in his favour with consecutive takedowns to stun the Indian camp.