Vinesh Phogat celebrates bronze at Asian Wrestling Championships

Having lost the opening round to the two-time world champion Mayu Mukaida, the Indian wrestler came up with a fine show in the bronze medal tie.

By Naveen Peter

One of India’s medal hopes at the upcoming 2020 Olympics, Vinesh Phogat, built on a fine start to her season with a bronze medal at the ongoing Asian Wrestling Championships in New Delhi. 

The day did not begin well for the Indian wrestler, though, as she once again failed to crack the Mayu Mukaida puzzle, going down to the two-time world champion from Japan in the opening round of the 53kg category.

But Vinesh Phogat was quick to put that disappointment aside to ease past Vietnam’s Thi Ly Lieu to win the bronze medal following a 10-0 win on technical superiority.

In a bout that lasted for just over the two-minute mark, the Indian wrestler was at her aggressive best as she banked on her tried-and-tested double-leg attacks to have her opponent in all sorts of trouble.

India’s Vinesh Phogat was at her aggressive best as she banked on her tried-and-tested double-leg attacks to have her opponent in all sorts of trouble. Photo: UWW

Making the complete use of the mat, Vinesh Phogat engaged with her Vietnamese opponent for long enough to create openings before inflicting a takedown and followed that by exposing her back to the mat to double the points. 

A 6-0 lead was soon 8-0 as Vinesh Phogat found a way past Lieu’s defence with ease for another takedown. Later, the Indian wrestler made the most of Lieu’s slip-up to escape an attack and in turn, went on to expose her opponent to complete the proceedings.

Silver solace for Sakshi Malik

Later, the 2016 Olympic bronze medallist, Sakshi Malik lost her gold medal bout in the 65kg category, a non-Olympic division at the Asian Wrestling Championships. 

Up against one of the upcoming Japanese stars Naomi Ruike, though the Indian wrestler ended up conceding an easy takedown, she was quick to make amends with her air-tight defence. 

Sakshi Malik was smart to use all her experience to evade Ruike’s attacks in her own special way.

An ultra-defensive approach didn’t help Sakshi Malik much as the Indian wrestler fell short. Photo: UWW

While the Indian wrestler would throw her body backwards to nullify the double leg attacks, she was quick to grasp on to her opponent’s legs to avoid being turned around for a takedown whenever Ruike got hold of her leg. 

But the ultra-defensive approach didn’t help Sakshi Malik much as the Indian wrestler fell short on scoring the much-needed points to lose the tie. 

Gursharan Preet, Anshu take bronze

The day also saw Gursharan Preet Kaur and Anshu win bronze medals in their respective categories after two cagey bouts at the Asian Wrestling Championships. 

Returning to the mat after a seven-year hiatus, national champion Gursharan Preet Kaur barely showed any signs of age catching up to her as the 35-year-old dished out a quality show to beat Tsevegmed Enkhbayar of Mongolia 5-2 in the 72kg category. 

Anshu too had to find her way through a close contest as she saw off a stiff challenge from Uzbekistan’s Sevara Eshmuratova before winning her tie in the 57kg category 4-1. 

India’s only disappointment in the medal rounds was restricted to Sonam Maik. The 18-year-old couldn’t contain an overpowering Aisuluu Tynybekova of Kyrgyzstan as the reigning world champions recorded a comfortable 11-0 win to take home the bronze.