These grapplers produced some remarkable performances during the tournament.
The Indian women kept the Indian flag soaring high by securing five medals, one silver and four bronze, in the U23 World Wrestling Championships 2021 in Belgrade, Serbia. Notably, all the medals came via the women wrestlers as the Greco-Roman and men’s freestyle grapplers drew blank at the tournament.
On the final day, Parveen Malik and Mohit Grewal competed in the men’s 74kg and 125kg freestyle repechage rounds respectively. However, both of them returned empty-handed.
Interestingly, since the inaugural edition of the U23 World Wrestling Championships in 2017, India have won the highest number of medals in the 2021 edition. In the first edition, India won a total of three medals. Further, one medal in 2018 and two in 2019.
The tournament did not take place in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Let’s take a look at all the five Indian medal winners in the recently concluded U23 World Wrestling Championships.
Shivani Pawar (50kg)
Shivani Pawar won a silver medal in the 50kg category after losing to Emily Shilson of the USA in the finals. Doing so, Shivani became the only third Indian woman wrestler to win a silver medal at the tournament. Despite Shivani starting with a two point lead, the American finished the bout with a 4-2 scoreline when she pinned the Indian down.
The young Indian wrestler had earlier defeated Maria of Russia in the semifinals after brushing past Tetiana Profatilova of Ukraine13-6 in the quarterfinals. Moreover, this victory was a turnaround for Shivani who was so close to ending her journey in her first bout against Anastasiya Yanotava of Belarus in the opening round of the tournament.
In the women’s 55kg category, Anju displayed a sensational comeback to win the bronze medal. Up against Canada’s Virginie Gascon, the youngster trailed 2-6 in the early stages before storming back to win 17-6 by technical superiority.
Earlier, Anju defeated Viktoriia Vaulina of Russia 5-4 in the semi-finals after brushing past Alexandra Hedrick of USA 11-8 in the quarterfinals. These two medals by Shivani and Anju was the first time that two woman wrestlers finished on the podium in a single edition of the U23 World Wrestling Championships.
Entering the 62kg bronze medal match through the repechage round, Radhika defeated 2019 European senior silver medalist, Aurora Campagna of Italy 6-4 to clinch the bronze medal in the U23 World Wrestling Championships.
Having lost the quarterfinals to Kateryna Zelenykh, she got a second chance in the repechage round. The Indian wrestler won the repechage round by defeating Hsin Ping Pai of Chinese Taipei. She showed top quality and crushed her opponent 13-2 to move into the bronze medal match.
Nisha also produced splendid performances in the tournament. The young Indian wrestler defeated Elma Zeidlere of Latvia 10-0 by technical superiority in a one-sided bronze medal contest. It was a pure dominant play by the Indian to clinch the medal.
Earlier, she was defeated by the eventual champion, Anastasiia Lavrenchuk of Ukraine in the semi-finals before defeating Ashlynn Ortega of the USA 8-4 in the quarterfinals. Nisha had started the tournament on a bright note with a comfortable 9-1 victory over Germany’s Eyleen Sewina.
Divya Kakran (72kg)
Two times Asian Champion Divya Kakran pinned past USA’s Kayla Marano 6-2 in the 72kg category to clinch the bronze medal. After losing 3-10 in the qualification round to Anastasiya Alpyeyeva of Ukraine, the Indian got her second chance in the repechage round. Divya did not disappoint as she defeated Alexandra Zaitseva of Kazakhstan 4-0 to move into the bronze medal match and clinched the glory.