Vinesh Phogat is on top of the World!

Updated: Sep 19, 2019, 09:19 IST | PTI |

Phogat secures Tokyo Olympics berth with bronze medal win in World Championships; Pooja Dhanda aims for her second Worlds bronze

Vinesh Phogat in action against Maria Prevolaraki of Greece during the Wrestling World Championships in  Kazakhstan yesterday. Pic/PTI
Vinesh Phogat in action against Maria Prevolaraki of Greece during the Wrestling World Championships in Kazakhstan yesterday. Pic/PTI

Nur-Sultan (Kazakhstan): Indian wrestling had a lot to celebrate yesterday as Vinesh Phogat secured Tokyo Olympics qualification and won a bronze, while Pooja Dhanda put herself one win away from her second medal at the World Championships here.

Having endured a medal-less run in three World Championships before, Vinesh finally ended the drought by pinning Maria Prevolaraki to win by fall in the bronze-medal bout. "It is my first World Championship medal and it is a big thing to win a medal at the Worlds," Vinesh told reporters.

"I had changed my weight category and in just 10 months, I got this medal. It is a thing of great happiness for me. It is the biggest medal of my career till now." The Indian lost a point for passivity after Maria, the two-time medallist, suffered a cut on her face in the beginning of the bout.

Vinesh Phogat (left) competes with Yuliia Khavaldzhy in the repechage round. Pic/PTI
Vinesh Phogat (left) competes with Yuliia Khavaldzhy in the repechage round. Pic/PTI

Vinesh made two moves but Maria defended well to keep the narrow lead at the break. Maria forced standing wrestling, locking Vinesh. The Indian attempted a double leg attack but Maria defended well. The Greek then put pressure on the Indian by grabbing her right leg.

Moments after Maria received treatment on her wound for a second time, Vinesh pulled off a four-point throw and kept her on ground to complete the win by fall. Vinesh is only the fifth Indian woman wrestler to win a Worlds medal after Alka Tomar (2006), Geeta Phogat (2012), Babita Phogat (2012) and Pooja Dhanda (2018).

Earlier in the day, she had held off world number one Sarah Ann Hildebrandt with some superlative defense in her second repechage round to qualify for the 2020 Olympics. Vinesh is now one of India's most successful wrestlers with gold medals at the Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games, already in her cupboard.

Adding to the elation of the Indian camp was a gritty show by Pooja in the 59kg, a non-Olympic category. Pooja reached the semifinals with a remarkable come-from-behind 11-8 win over Japan's Yuzuka Inagaki before losing the semifinal by technical superiority to Russia's Liubov Ovcharova, the 2017 European champion. She will now fight for her second bronze medal at the Worlds, having won one in 57kg at the 2018 Budapest edition.

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