India performed brilliantly in the tournament.
The recently concluded Asian Wrestling Championship proved to be a huge positive for India. Indian wrestlers performed brilliantly ahead of their bid for medals in the upcoming Tokyo Olympics. The event gave India five Gold medal winners and three second-placed wrestlers. Six athletes won Bronze medals for their country.
There were surprises at either end, sure winners losing out while unexpected diamonds in the rough showed up. We take a look at the five top Indian performers during the continental championship:
5. Divya Kakran
The 72kg wrestler had only three others vying for the Gold, but the Uttar Pradesh native made short work of her opposition. She saw off the challenge from Tsevegmed Enkhbayar of Mongolia 2-0 and breezed past eventual silver winner Zhamila Bakbergenova of Kazakhstan 8-5.
Her gold was confirmed before her last bout against Korean Sujin Park, in which she ended up winning 2-0 to maintain her perfect record in the Asian Wrestling Championship 2021. This is her second Asian Wrestling Gold, having stood on the top step last year in New Delhi in the 68kg category.
4. Sarita Mor
Sarita too clinched her second continental championship Gold medal in two years after beating Shoovdor Baatarjav 10-7 in the freestyle final in the 59kg category. She had started with a tough 4-5 loss against her finals’ opponent. The Indian wrestler bounced back by winning two successive bouts on technical superiority against Kazakh Diana Kayumova and Nuraida Anarkulova of Kyrgyzstan respectively.
She had started her final bout against the Mongol Shoovdor trailing 1-7, before scoring nine straight points to win top honours.
3. Vinesh Phogat
Having already qualified for the Tokyo Olympics, the pressure seemed to be off Vinesh’s shoulders, as it was a masterful tournament by the seasoned wrestler. She defeated Mongolian Otgonjargal Ganbaatar 11-0 and Chinese Taipei’s Meng Hsuan Hsieh 12-0 in the first two matches of the 53 kg category.
If it wasn’t for the forfeiture by Korean Oh Young-hyun, she could easily have been topmost on the list as Vinesh beat Meng Hsieh again by a score of 6-0 in the final. This marks her first-ever Asian Wrestling Championship Gold, having secured three silvers and four bronze before. Vinesh’s performance will endow her with confidence and likely push her for more as the Olympics approaches.
2. Ravi Kumar Dahiya
It was a breeze for Ravi Kumar Dahiya, clinching his second Gold in two years in the continental competition after winning in Delhi in 2020. The Haryana-born wrestler who competes in the 57kg category beat his Iranian opponent with ease. Alireza Sarlak had to succumb to the Indian and settled for silver losing by a score of 9-4.
The win made him the first Indian male wrestler to win a Gold medal in the Asian Wrestling Championship 2021. His medal capped off a dominant tournament. He won the first match against Nodirjon Safarov 9-2 and the second one against MM Aburumalia on technical superiority. The Indian wrestler continued his good run to clinch the Gold.
1. Anshu Malik
The Bronze medal winner from the Delhi edition upgraded her medal to Gold with a dominant set of matches. The 19-year-old beat Sevara Eshmuratova, Nazira Marsbek and Battsetseg Altantsetseg by scores of 10-0,10-0 and 9-1 respectively before seeing off Korean Lee Shin-hye.
She then Beat Mongolian Battsetseg again in the final by a scoreline of 3-0. The youngster was really impressive in her bouts, seeing off way more competitive opponents on her way to the gold.