These wrestlers produced some top-class performances in the tournament.
The World Wrestling Championships ended on a great note for India. While Anshu Malik bagged a historic silver medal, Sarita Mor won the bronze. However, it was a pretty disappointing campaign for the male contingent. All of the male wrestlers failed to win a medal in the competition.
Most of the senior wrestlers did not participate in the tournament due to different reasons. Vinesh Phogat failed to qualify for the event. On the other hand, Tokyo Olympics silver medalist Ravi Dahiya felt that he was under-prepared for the World Wrestling Championships. Sonam Malik was injured and even Bajrang Punia did not feature in the competition.
Among the recent Olympians, only Anshu Malik participated and somewhat redeemed herself after a disappointing Olympic campaign. Reigning Asian champion Sarita Mor was also brilliant to clinch a medal. Although India won only two medals, several young wrestlers stood out on the world stage and did well.
Let’s take a look at the top five Indian performances at the World Wrestling Championships 2021.
Kiran Bishnoi showed the importance of experience at major events. She performed brilliantly at the Wrestling World Championships, but fell short of a bronze medal. The 2018 Commonwealth Games bronze medalist started the event with a rampant 6-0 win over Kim Cho-lee of South Korea. She was stopped in her tracks by Tokyo Olympics silver medalist Adeline Gray of the United States in the next round.
The grappler then tried her luck in the repechage round. She defeated Turkey’s Aysegul Ozbege 2-0 in a very close encounter. The win in the repechage allowed her a shot at the bronze. However, Kiran was not in her best element, as she lost the bout to Sama Hamza of Egypt. Despite being the favourite in this clash, Kiran did not look convincing, as Hamza managed to win the bout 2-1 to clinch the bronze medal.
Pinki had a terrific World Championships, but unfortunately, she fell short of winning her maiden medal at such a major event. She showed great character and grit to get through the qualification rounds to reach the semi-finals. The Indian wrestler started the tournament by defeating Kim Soy-eon and her intent was clear from the start. She was always on the move and never missed a chance to attack.
Her aggression and determination were on full show when she defeated Aisha Ualishan of Kazakhstan by pinfall. However, she could not keep up her consistency and lost 6-8 against Germany’s Nina Hemmer in the semi-final. She faced Jenna Rose Burkert in the bronze medal match, once again failing to hold her nerve and went down 2-5. This event will be a great learning curve for Pinki and in the coming days, the talented grappler will look to work on her shortcomings.
One of India’s brightest young talents, Ravinder impressed at the World Championships. He took up the event as a challenge and defeated grapplers with way more experience than him. The youngster came to this tournament after winning the silver medal at the Junior Wrestling Championships.
As most of the Olympians decided to take a break, the expectations surrounding the Indian wrestling contingent were pretty low. But, Ravinder showed that people must count him out at their peril. He started the event with a dominant win 13-2 against South Korea’s Kim Sung-gwon in the qualification round. The youngster followed it up with another comfortable win against Beka Lomtadze of Georgia as he progressed to the quarterfinals.
He faced Pan American Games champion Daton Fix in the last eight and despite fighting his heart out, Ravinder lost. However, he came back in the repechage round to beat Georgi Vangelov, only to lose the bronze medal bout against Arsen Harutyunan. This tournament will surely be an eye-opener for Ravinder, as he will look to improve on his weaknesses and come back stronger in future.
There was a weight of expectations on Sarita Mor’s shoulders, as she was one the most experienced wrestlers in the entire contingent. However, she lived up to the expectations really well and became only the sixth Indian female wrestler to win a bronze medal at the World Championships. The reigning Asian champion was in prime form in the build-up to this tournament. Sarita hardly put a foot wrong throughout her journey to the bronze.
The 26-year-old grappler started the tournament with an 8-4 win over Canada’s Linda Morais. She then carried her upbeat form and defeated Sandra ParusZewski of Germany, before going down against Bulgaria’s Bilyana Dudova in the semi-final. She came roaring back to turn over Sweden’s Sara Lindborg 8-2 and won her maiden bronze medal at the World Championship.
Sarita started strongly, had the early lead and kept on increasing it gradually. She was well in control throughout the tournament and deservedly clinched the bronze medal.
Anshu Malik proved her talent after qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics earlier this year. While things did not go down well in Tokyo, her biggest challenge was to come back from that disappointment. Anshu then decided to feature at the World Wrestling Championships and became India’s first female silver medalist in the tournament.
Anshu had fire in her eyes, as she wanted to prove her critics wrong after the disappointing Olympics campaign. She started her campaign with a rampant 15-5 win over Nilufar Raimova of Kazakhstan. She followed it with another 5-1 win against Mongolia’s Davaachimeg Erkhembayar. The teenager showed nerves of steel, as she comfortably reached the final with an 11-0 win against Solomiia Vynnyk of Ukraine.
Despite all the adversities Anshu fought long and hard, but had to settle for silver after losing her final bout against Helen Maroulis of the United States. It can be a major turning point in Anshu’s career, especially given the way she prepared herself physically and mentally.