Anshu Malik creates history, becomes first Indian woman to reach world wrestling championships final

The Indian wrestler made the women’s 57kg final. She will fight 2016 Olympic champion Helen Maroulis for the gold medal.

By Rahul Venkat
Picture by United World Wrestling / Tony Rotundo

Tokyo Olympian Anshu Malik progressed to the final of the women’s 57kg category at the World Wrestling Championships 2021 in Oslo, Norway on Wednesday and is assured of a medal.

It is a historic moment as she is the first female Indian wrestler to make it to the final in any category at the world championships.

Only five Indian women have won medals — all bronze — at the world championships; Alka Tomar (2006), Geeta Phogat (2012), Babita Phogat (2012), Pooja Dhanda (2018) and Vinesh Phogat (2019).

​​Sushil Kumar is the only Indian who became a world champion.

Anshu Malik began the day with a win by technical superiority over Kazakhstan’s Nilufar Raimova in the round of 16 and then won by points against Davaachimeg Erkhembayar of Mongolia in the quarter-finals.

In the semi-finals against Ukrainian Solomia Vynnyk, she was even more dominant, winning again by technical superiority and not conceding a single point to make history.

Anshu Malik will take on the USA’s Helen Louise Maroulis, the Rio 2016 53kg champion and 57kg bronze-medallist at Tokyo 2020.

India’s Sarita Mor will wrestle for bronze in the women’s 59kg category after falling in the semis to Bulgaria’s Bilyana Zhivkova Dudova, a four-time European champion and world championships silver-medallist.

Sarita Mor had stunned Canada’s Linda Morais, the defending champion, and German Sandra Paruszewski en route the last four.

Two-time Asian champion Divya Kakran will wrestle in the repechage rounds of the women’s 72kg against Mongolia’s Davaanasan Enkh Amar. The winner of the bout will then fight for bronze against Germany’s Anna Schell.

Divya Kakran fell in the last eight to Japan’s Masako Furuichi, who progressed to the final, which opened the door to the repechage for the Indian.

Meanwhile, India’s Ritu Malik fell in the round of 16 of the women’s 68kg.

Another Indian Pooja Jatt lost in the first repechage round of the women’s 53kg against Luisa Valverde Melendres of Ecuador.

In the women’s 76kg, Kiran Bishnoi missed out on bronze after losing to Egyptian Samar Ibrahim Hamza in the playoff. The Indian had earlier beaten Aysegul Ozbege of Turkey in the first repechage round.