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Antim Panghal India's brightest spark as wrestling stalwarts disappoint at Asian Games 2023

Published at :October 21, 2023 at 4:26 PM
Modified at :December 13, 2023 at 1:01 PM
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(Courtesy : Screenshot/Sony LIV)

Sourav Goswami

Bajrang Punia's failure to medal was the biggest shocker in wrestling.

An 18-member Indian wrestling contingent participated at the Asian Games 2023 hosted in Hangzhou, China. India has representatives in all wrestling divisions, including six Greco-Roman, six women's freestyle, and six men's freestyle events, the Lin'an Sports Culture & Exhibition Centre served as the stage for their remarkable performances.

India's wrestling prowess has consistently earned them a place on the Asian Games medal podium. In this edition, the Indian wrestling team secured six medals, comprising one silver and five bronze. Notably, Deepak Punia, the sole Indian wrestler to reach the final round, emerged with a well-deserved silver medal.

While the overall performance of the Indian wrestlers in the Asian Games 2023 was commendable, it bore some disappointments. Notably, two-time Asian Games medalist, Bajrang Punia, returned empty-handed, and Aman Sehrawat, a strong contender for the gold medal in the 57kg category, settled for a bronze. Nevertheless, the young Indian wrestlers exhibited exceptional skills and determination, leaving their mark on the continental stage.

The Indian wrestling team has a number of talented wrestlers, but they need to be more consistent in their performances before the 2024 Paris Olympics.

Indian wrestling factsheet for Asian Games 2023

Wrestling Asian Games 2023

List of participants

Women’s Freestyle: Pooja Gehlot (50kg), Antim Panghal (53kg), Mansi Ahlawat (57kg), Sonam Malik (62kg), Radhika (68kg), Kiran (76kg)

Greco-Roman: Gyanender (60kg), Neeraj (67kg), Vikas (77kg), Sunil Kumar (87kg), Narinder Cheema (97kg), Naveen (130kg)

Men’s Freestyle: Aman Sehrawat (57kg), Bajrang Punia (65kg), Yash (74kg) Deepak Punia (86kg), Vicky (97kg), Sumit (125kg)

Key highlights

· The Indian wrestling contingent clinched six medals in wrestling at the 2023 Asian Games, including one silver and five bronze.

· Deepak Punia was the only Indian wrestler to win a silver medal.

· Bajrang Punia, a two-time medal winner at Asian Games, couldn't defend his title in men's 65kg division.

· Other Indian medal winners included Antim Panghal, the Asian Champion, Olympian Aman Sehrawat, Sonam Malik, Sunil Kumar, and Kiran Bishnoi.

· India finished fifth in the wrestling medal tally at the 2023 Asian Games, behind Japan, China, Iran, and Kazakhstan.

Top three performers

Deepak Punia

Commonwealth Games champion, Deepak Punia, lost to Olympic champion Hassan Yazdani of Iran in the gold medal match and won a silver medal in the men's 86kg freestyle category.

His silver was a bright spot for the Indian wrestling team. Punia is a young wrestler with a lot of potential. He is one of the wrestlers that India is counting on to win medals at the 2024 Olympic Games.

Antim Panghal

Antim Panghal Asian Games 2023
Antim Panghal clinched her maiden Asian Games medal in Hangzhou (Courtesy: United World Wrestling)

Antim Panghal, aged 19, is a rising star in Indian wrestling who proved her credentials at the Asian Games 2023. The world junior wrestling champion won a bronze medal after losing to Japan's Akari Fujunami in the quarterfinals in the women’s 53kg category at Hangzhou, the People’s Republic of China.

Sunil Kumar

Indian wrestler Sunil Kumar achieved a remarkable accomplishment by clinching India's first Greco-Roman wrestling medal in 13 years at the Hangzhou Asian Games. Sunil secured the bronze medal in the 87kg category.


Bajrang Punia

Bajrang Punia
Punia failed to medal at the Asian Games for the first time in three editions (Courtesy: NDTV)

Indian freestyle wrestling star Bajrang Punia, one of the contenders to win the gold medal returned with a blank from the Asian Games 2023 after losing the bronze medal bout to Japan’s Kaiki Yamaguchi in the men’s 65kg wrestling division at the Hangzhou Asian Games 2023.

Bajrang Punia's performance at the 2023 Asian Games was a concern. Punia is one of India's most experienced wrestlers and he has a lot of potential. However, he has been struggling in recent months. It is important for Punia to regain his form if he wants to win medals at the 2024 Olympic Games.

Pooja Gehlot

Pooja Gehlot, who won bronze at the Commonwealth Games, fell short of repeating her success at the Asian Games 2023, losing 2-9 to Uzbekistan's Aktenge Keunimjaeva, a three-time bronze medalist at the Asian Championships in the bronze medal bout.

Future prospects

Several Indian wrestlers will be looking to bounce back from their disappointing performance at the 2023 Asian Games and put on a better show at the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris. The Indian government has also announced several initiatives to support the development of wrestling in the country.

The Indian government and the Wrestling Federation of India need to invest in coaching, infrastructure, and competition in order to help the Indian wrestling team succeed at the highest level.

With the support of the government and the Wrestling Federation of India, Indian wrestlers have the potential to achieve great things in the coming years.