Narsingh Pancham Yadav became first Indian wrestler to secure Olympic berth after bagging a bronze medal in the Men's 74kg Freestyle category, giving the country a reason to cheer at the World Wrestling Championship here.
With his third-place finish, Narsingh became the lone Indian to win a medal at the prestigious tournament as well as book a berth for the 2016 Rio Games. Top six in each category qualifies for the Olympics. This is the first time that an Indian wrestler has earned an Olympic berth with a medal at the World Championship.
Double Olympic medallist Sushil Kumar's absence from the mat for over an year now has made Narsingh a regular in the 74kg division.
It will now be interesting to see who between the veteran Sushil or 26-year-old Narsingh ultimately board the flight to Rio next year to represent India in this category. As per rules, an Olympic berth is for the country concerned and not the wrestler who might have clinched it.
Other than Narsingh, India had a dismal show overall in the championship, which concluded today, as no one else could make it to the podium.
Besides Narsingh, other Indians in the fray today -- Amit Kumar (57kg), Arun Kumar (70kg) and Sumit (125kg) -- could not progress beyond the quarterfinal round.
Narsingh came up with some dominating performances, defeating Hanoc Rachamin of Israel 14-2 before getting the better of Soner Demirtas of Turkey 4-3 and Cuba's Livan Lopez Azcuy 16-5 to advance to the semifinal.
But in his semifinal bout, Narsingh went down to Unurbat Purevjav of Mongolia.
However, in his bronze medal play-off, he got his act together to outplay Zelimkhan Khadjiev of France 12-8 to make it to the podium.
Arun, meanwhile, did well to beat Tat Du Can of Vietnam 7-0 and Semen Radulov of Ukraine 5-4 to advance to the quarterfinal round. But he lost to local wrestler James Malcolm Green 0-10 in the last-eight stage.
Amit also started off well as he defeated Sezar Akgul of Turkey 6-4 but failed to sustain in his pre-quarterfinal bout as he went down to Viktor Lebedev of Russia 1-2 to bow out of the tournament.
Sumit was beaten by Aiaal Lazarev of Kyrgyzstan 0-3 in the Round of 1/16.