Wrestling has become on one of India's best hopes for an Olympic medal over the last three Summer Games. Three out of the five Olympic medals that Indian wrestlers have have won since KD Jadhav won independent India's first individual medal at the 1952 Games, have come through repechage.
But what exactly is repechage and how does it work?
Idea Behind Repechage
The word repechage is derived from the French word repêcher, which means to give a second chance. The concept of repechage exists in wrestling to provide wrestlers who lost in the earlier rounds a chance to fight for a bronze medal. A good wrestler who lost out to a top rival in the early rounds should not be punished for getting a tough draw.
All wrestlers who have lost to the two finalists are drawn to grapple in the repechage matches with the last two wrestlers standing being awarded bronze medals.
The repechage system was introduced in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Sushil Kumar benefited from the system when he won bronze via repechage in the men's freestyle 66kg event. Yogeshwar Dutt (freestyle 60kg) and Sakshi Malik (freestyle 58kg) won bronze medals via repechage at the 2012 London Olympics and 2016 Rio Olympics respectively.
How Does The System Work?
The draw is divided into two halves with one finalist emerging from each half. If you consider the sample draw below, wrestler W1 reached the final from the top half of the draw while wrestler W9 reached the final from the bottom draw of the half.
For the bronze medals, a mini-draw is held which involves all wrestlers who have been defeated by the finalists on their way to the final. The wrestlers who lost to the finalists in the early rounds will grapple in repechage matches until a winner emerges from each half. These winners will take on the losing semi-finalist from each half for the bronze medal.
Staying with the same example, wrestlers W2 and W3, who lost to finalist W1 from the top half, will grapple in the repechage match with the winner facing wrestler W5, who lost in the semi-final to W1.
Similarly, wrestlers W10 and W11, who lost to finalist W5 from the bottom half, will grapple in the repechage match with the winner facing wrestler W13, who lost in the semi-final to W9.
Indian Wrestlers At Tokyo Olympics
Seven wrestlers -- four women and three men -- are in the Indian contingent at the Tokyo Olympics. Anshu Malik (women's freestyle 57kg), Seema Bisla (women's freestyle 50kg), Sonam Malik (women's freestyle 62kg), Vinesh Phogat (women's freestyle 53kg), Bajran Punia (men's freestyle 65kg), Deepak Punia (men's freestyle 86kg) and Ravi Kumar (men's freestyle 57kg) are the Indian wrestlers at the Olympics.
Sonam Malik lost in the first round of her event to Mongolia's Bolortuya Khurelkhuu. With Khurelkhuu losing in the quarter-finals, Sonam cannot take part in the repechage rounds.
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