Playing under the United World Wrestling (UWW) flag, Indian wrestlers endured a disappointing performance on day one of the World Wrestling Championships 2023 on Saturday, September 16. Abimanyu, ranked 26th in the world, was the best performer for India today as he defeated the world no.7 Ihor Nykyforuk in the opening bout to raise the expectations from the fans but lost to second-seed Allen Retherford in the quarterfinal.
Four Indian wrestlers Akash Dahiya (FS 61kg), Abhimanyu (FS 70kg), Sandeep Mann (FS 86kg) and Sumit Malik (FS 125kg) featured on day 1 in Belgrade but were not able to impress in freestyle events. Dahiya, Sandeep and Sumit were knocked out in the pre-quarterfinal games while Abhimanyu lost to Retherford after early impressive bouts.
Abhimanyu won the U23 World Championships 2023 in June but was no match against USA's Retherford, who was the runner-up in the 2022 edition of the tournament. He dominated the Indian wrestler with an easy 9-2 win and also reached the final for the second consecutive year after beating Arman Andreasyan by 7-0.
However, Abhimanyu can still win the bronze medal via repechage if he wins two bouts on Sunday as his opponent progresses to the final. Both Dahiya and Malik can also hope for the bronze medal through repechage as their opponents progress to finals in the respective categories.
Dahiya, ranked 21st, beat Leomid Colesnic of Moldova by 10-5 in the opening bout but lost to the world no.6 Jahongirmirza Turobov of Uzbekistan by 7-4.