World U20 Wrestling Championships 2022: Antim Panghal wins historic gold medal

Antim won the 53kg category to become the first Indian U20 world champion in women’s wrestling. Sonam Malik and Priyanka won silver medals.

By Ali Asgar Nalwala
Picture by United World Wrestling

Reigning junior Asian champion Antim Panghal won the gold medal in the women’s 53kg category at the World U20 Wrestling Championships 2022 in Sofia, Bulgaria on Friday.

With the top podium finish, 17-year-old Antim Panghal became the first Indian woman to win a gold medal in the U20 world wrestling championships.

Before Antim, six Indian wrestlers had reached the finals at the junior world meet but none of them managed a gold medal finish.

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Up against the U20 Asian Championships bronze medallist Altyn Shagayeva of Kazakhstan in the women’s 53kg final, Antim Panghal pulled off a near-perfect performance.

After leading 6-0 at the break, Antim Panghal, who won gold at the seniors Zouhaier Sghaier Ranking Series in Tunisia last month, was firmly in control and saw off the remaining minutes to win the bout 8-0.

"I really love counters but here she (Altyn Shagayeva) was not attacking much so I had to initiate a few attacks," Antim told the United World Wrestling (UWW) website after her win.

Antim Panghal beat the junior European champion Amory Olivia Andrich of Germany via technical superiority (11-0) in the first round before pinning Ayaka Kimura of Japan in the quarter-finals. "Everyone always said that Japan is the best," Antim said. "All I wanted to do was beat Japan."

In the semi-finals, Antim Panghal beat U20 European championships bronze medallist Nataliia Klivchutska of Ukraine 11-2 to ensure a medal for India.

Apart from Antim’s gold medal, Tokyo Olympian and two-time cadet world champion Sonam Malik (women’s 62kg) and another reigning junior Asian champion Priyanka (women’s 65kg) won silver medals on Friday.

Sonam Malik lost by fall to senior worlds bronze medallist Nonoka Ozaki of Japan in the final after defeating U23 Asian championships silver medallist Bermet Nuridin Kyzy of Kazakhstan in similar fashion in the semi-finals.

Priyanka, meanwhile, lost to Mahiro Yoshitake of Japan 8-0 in the 65kg final. In the semi-finals, Priyanka pinned U23 Asian Championships silver medallist Dilnaz Sazanova of Kyrgyzstan.

With one gold and two silver medals on Friday, India now have a total of 12 medals - one gold, three silvers and eight bronze - at the Sofia meet.

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