Asian Wrestling Championships: India’s Anshu Malik, Radhika win silver medals

Manisha (62kg) won bronze while Swati Shinde (53kg) and Nikki (75kg) returned empty-handed. 

By Utathya Nag
Picture by SAI Media

Indian wrestler Anshu Malik failed to defend her women’s 57kg crown at the Asian Wrestling Championships 2022 in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia after going down to Japan’s Tsugumi Sakurai in the final on Friday.

Anshu Malik, who won the gold in the division at last year’s Asian Championships in Almaty, began her title defence with purpose with a win by technical superiority over Uzbekistan's Shokhida Akhmedova.

The 20-year-old, who became the first Indian women’s wrestler to win a world championships silver last year, followed up with similar dominating victory over Singapore's Danielle Sue Ching Lim in the second round before ousting Mongolia's Bolortuya Khurelkhuu, a Tokyo Olympian, in the semi-finals.

All three of Anshu’s wins en route to the final were via technical superiority.

Her charge, however, fell short in the gold medal match against Japan’s Tsugumi Sakurai, the reigning 55kg world champion. The Japanese grappler took a 4-0 lead before pinning her Indian opponent as Anshu Malik had to settle for silver.

It was Anshu Malik’s third successive medal at the continental showpiece, having won a bronze in 2020 and a gold in 2021.

India’s Radhika, competing in the women’s 65kg which was played in a Nordic round system (each wrestler facing others in a round robin format) due to the limited number of contestants, also bagged a silver in her event.

Radhika lost her first bout against Japan’s Miwa Morikawa, a former worlds silver medallist and eventual gold medallist in the event, via technical superiority but bounced back to beat Uzbekistan’s Ariukhan Jumabaeva (4-2), Mongolia’s Purevsuren Ulziisaikhan (8-6) and Kazakhstan’s Dariga Aben (technical superiority) to finish second.

Another Indian medallist from Saturday was Manisha, with bronze, in the 62kg.

With a regular bracket format, Manisha, who beat Olympic medallist Sakshi Malik to earn her spot in the Indian team for the Asian meet, defeated Kazakh grappler Ayaulym Kassymova 9-0 in the quarter-finals but went down to Japan’s Nonoka Ozaki, a worlds bronze medallist, in the semis.

The bronze medal match, however, saw the Indian wrestler pin South Korea’s Hanbit Lee to claim her spot on the podium.

The other two Indian women’s wrestlers in action on Friday - Swati Shinde (53kg) and Nikki (75kg) – didn’t win any medals.

Friday’s three medals take India’s tally at the Asian Wrestling Championships 2022 to 10 (two silvers and eight bronze).

Greco Roman wrestlers Sunil Kumar (87kg), Arjun Halakurki (55kg) Neeraj (63kg), Harpreet Singh (82kg) and Sachin Sahrawat (67kg) and women’s freestyle grapplers Sarita Mor (59kg) and Sushma Shokeen (55kg) had earlier won seven bronze medals over the first three days of the competition.

Indian men’s freestyle wrestlers, including Tokyo Olympic medallists Ravi Kumar Dahiya and Bajrang Punia, will be in action over the weekend.

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