Rome, Jan 15 Twenty-year-old Greco-Roman grappler Sunil Kumar sprung a huge surprise by reaching the gold medal round on his maiden senior level appearance at the first ranking series event of the season, here on Wednesday.
In the 87kg category, Sunil began with a 2-1 win over American Patrick Anthony Martinez and followed it up with a commanding victory by fall over Venezuala''s Luis Eduardo Avendano Rojas in the semifinals.
He will now fight it out with Hungary''s Viktor Lorincz for the top prize.
The Indians are competing in six Olympic weight categories at this event.
Two more Indians are in medal contention with Ashu (67kg) and Sachin Rana (60kg) reaching the bronze play-offs.
Ashu beat Italy''s Ignazio Sanfilippo by technical superiority in the repechage round after losing his quarterfinal 3-4 to Abouhalima Mohamed Elsaid.
Rana won a close quarterfinal bout 5-4 against Ukraine''s Ihor Kurochkin before losing his semi-final by technical superiority to Uznekistan''s Islomjon Bakhramov.
However, Naveen (130kg) and Hardeep Singh (97kg) exited after losing their respective opening bouts.
Naveen lost his Qualification round 0-7 to China''s Lingzhe Meng while Hardeep Singh was no match to America'' Tracy Gangelo Hancock, losing by technical superiority in the pre-quarterfinal bout. PTI AT KHS KHS