Asian Wrestling Championship: India grapplers Sarita, Divya and Pinki win gold medals

Updated: Feb 21, 2020, 09:27 IST | PTI | New Delhi

Nirmala beat Mongolia's Munkhnar Byambasuren 6-4 and Uzbeskitan's Dauletbike Yakhshimuratova by technical superiority but lost the final 2-3 to Japan's Miho Igarashi

Divya Kakran celebrates her win, Sarita Mor with her gold medal and India's Pinki, who won 55kg gold
Divya Kakran celebrates her win, Sarita Mor with her gold medal and India's Pinki, who won 55kg gold

Divya Kakran led the pack with a stunning performance before Sarita Mor and Pinki grabbed gold in their respective categories as India dominated the opening day of women's competition at the Asian Wrestling Championship here on Thursday. On a memorable day for the hosts, the Indian girls reached four out of five finals with Divya (68kg), Pinki (55kg) and Sarita (59kg) standing on top of the podium. Nirmala Devi settled for a silver in 50kg while Kiran (76kg) was the only one to miss out on a medal. The field, though, was a depleted one as the Chinese and Korean wrestlers are not competing and Japan have not sent their best grapplers. Before this, India had won only one gold at the Senior Asian Championships' women's event, through Navjot Kaur in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, in 2018. Jakarta Asian Games bronze medallist Divya produced a strong performance, winning all her bouts by fall, including against reigning junior world champion Naruha Matsuyuki.

She began by routing Kazakhstan's Albina Kairgelinova and then knocked out Mongolia's Delgermaa Enkkhsaikhan. In the third round, against Uzbekistan's Azoda Esbergenova, she led 4-0 with consecutive rolls and then pinned her opponent to finish it off in just 27 seconds. Against the Japanese junior world champion, with her strong left-leg attacks, Divya led 4-0 with a takedown and an expose move. The Japanese made a solid start in the second period as she attacked the Indian's left leg initially but scored points with a right leg move to make it 4-4. The Japanese almost pinned her but Divya wriggled out of the difficult position. She soon effected a move which led to her victory by fall. "I had to win by fall to get five points from all my bouts because the Japanese was winning all her bouts by big margins, so I took a risk for big wins. My coach had said that I don't have to go for big throws all the time, but I went for it," said Divya.

"It did become tricky after I led 4-0 (in final). I was not in a great position (Naruha's lock) and it could have been very dangerous. But I took a risk and it paid off by God's grace." Asked if the absence of Chinese wrestler helped, she replied in the affirmative. "Yes, it did benefit. But if you have a five-wrestler group it becomes even tougher, you have to fight everyone and win big. I won 4 bouts within 2 hours. It was tough on the body but the good thing is I have improved on my range, I made all kinds of attacks, Irani, Kheme, single-led, double leg attacks." Sarita, competing in her first Asian event since winning a silver in 2017 in 58kg, won her first two bouts by technical superiority against Madina Bakbergenova (Kazakhstan) and Nazira MarsbekKyzy (Kyrgyzstan) before winning 10-3 against Japan's Yuumi Kon. She edged out Mongolia's Battseteg Atlantsetseg 3-2 in the final.

Sarita managed a push-out point to win her first gold at this event after the scores were tied. Pinki, competing at senior Asian for the first time, began by beating Uzbekistan's Shokida Akhmedova by fall but lost the next bout to Japan's Kana Higashikawa. She won her semifinal against Marina Zuyeva 6-0 and beat Mongolia's Dulguun Bolormaa 2-1 to grab the gold. All the points scored in the final were on passivity. "I was a bit careful because I had injured my elbow. I did not want to aggravate since important events are lined up," said Pinki. Nirmala beat Mongolia's Munkhnar Byambasuren 6-4 and Uzbeskitan's Dauletbike Yakhshimuratova by technical superiority but lost the final 2-3 to Japan's Miho Igarashi.

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