Big Day for Vinesh! Qualifies for Tokyo, Wins Maiden Worlds Medal
Vinesh Phogat has won the bronze medal at the Wrestling World Championships.
Vinesh Phogat has won the bronze medal at the Wrestling World Championships.(Photo: UWW)

Big Day for Vinesh! Qualifies for Tokyo, Wins Maiden Worlds Medal

She’s the golden girl of Indian wrestling but Vinesh Phogat’s bronze medal-winning performance at the World Championship on Wednesday has given the nation more than one reason to celebrate.

Apart from being her own first World Championship medal, the successful outings on Wednesday also helped the Indian star bag a quota place for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Apart from Vinesh, five other women wrestlers from India were in action on the day with only Pooja Dhanda putting up a solid show before losing her semi-final bout. The 2018 World Championship bronze medallist however will get a chance at the bronze medal match in the Repechage rounds on Thursday morning.

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Having endured a medal-less run in three World Championships before, Vinesh finally ended the drought by pinning wrestler Maria Prevolaraki by fall in the bronze-medal bout.

The 25-year-old Indian lost a point for passivity after Maria, the the two-time medallist, suffered a cut on her face in the beginning of the bout.

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).

Having endured a medal-less run in three World Championships before, Vinesh finally ended the drought by pinning wrestler Maria Prevolaraki by fall in the bronze-medal bout.

The 25-year-old Indian lost a point for passivity after Maria, the the two-time medallist, suffered a cut on her face in the beginning of the bout.

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).

Pooja Dhanda of India, right, and Liubov Ovcharova of Russia compete at the semifinal of the women’s 59kg category during the Wrestling World Championships in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan, Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019. 
Pooja Dhanda of India, right, and Liubov Ovcharova of Russia compete at the semifinal of the women’s 59kg category during the Wrestling World Championships in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan, Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019. 
(Photo: AP)

Pooja to Fight For Bronze

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.

Pooja can now become the first female wrestler and only second Indian to win two World medals. Only Bajrang Punia has achieved the feat. He won a bronze in 2013 and a silver in 2018.

Seema Bisla though missed Olympic qualification in the 50kg after losing her second repechage round 3-11 to Russia's Ekaterina Poleshchuk.

Much was expected from Sarita Mor after her shock victory over Pooja Dhanda in the trials but she was far from her usual aggressive self. Up against Moldova's Anastasia Nichita, she remained defensive, losing the 57kg Qualification bout 1-5. She was ousted when Nichita lost her quarterfinal.

In the 76kg, Kiran had rattled her German opponent Aline Rotter Focken to lead 4-0 but lost five points in a row in the second period to lose the opening bout 4-5. She paid the price for being over-defensive. Since the German lost her semifinal, Kiran's campaign is over.

Navjot Kaur was also ousted from 65kg after losing her opening bout to Azerbaijan's Alis Manolova, who later lost her semifinal.

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