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Commonwealth Games 2018: No cakewalk for Indian women wrestlers at Gold Coast

Commonwealth Games 2018: No cakewalk for Indian women wrestlers at Gold Coast

Madhusudan Rangu

Published: 29 March 2018 5:57 PM GMT
Indian hopes will be high as the six Indian women wrestlers enter the mat at Gold Coast in a couple of weeks time. After all the Commonwealth competitions fetch India maximum success at international levels.

But the picture is not that rosy..

The extremely fast and talented Vinesh Phogat fighting in the 50 kg class competitors has the easiest task in the group if one goes by the number of competitors in her category; only 4. But the easy part ends here. Nigeria and Canada have sent their best, Genesis & Jessica MacDonald respectively. Always quick to turn her opponent's attack on her legs into offense, the defending champion from Glasgow will be wary of the African champion from Nigeria who with her short stature maintains such a low center of gravity that her eyes are almost transfixed on her opponent's legs. Once there, Genesis quickly moves onto the leg lace or the 'feet-la' a la Yogeshwar Dutt at London Olympics.
Also read: Commonwealth Games 2018: 'Golds' at Gold Coast beckon Sushil Kumar and company of male wrestlers
The Nigerian was in great form last month in the Continental championships last month dropping just 2 points across but I daresay, none of the opponents are as skillful as the Indian. The taller and much older Canadian MacDonald, at 33, presents a different challenge as she prefers to wrestle from the standing positions on the mat. A physical masterpiece with a very strong core, MacDonald was no match for Japanese Yuki Irie nor the American Anthony at the recent World Cup, but then not many are. Her Belarussian and Swedish opponents were defeated by fall.

The way for the Olympic Bronze medalist

The 62 kg class has 5 wrestlers including Sakshi Malik with Nigerian Adeniyi & Canadian Michelle Fazarri set to challenge for the Gold. Like most Nigerian female wrestlers, Adeniyi keeps moving forward all the time giving no respite to slower moving opponents. Sakshi is second to no one in strength but not the most fleet footed. Much like her Canadian colleagues, Fazarri has vast experience. At the last world Championships in Paris, it required the mastery of Helen Maroulis to stop Fazarri, who later won the bronze. No stranger to injuries and surgeries the Canadian won her World bronze at 58 kg
. However, it remains to be seen if the 4 kg jump in body weight has slowed her down. Point to note: Adeniyi has defeated Sakshi at Glasgow.

Huge test for Pro Wrestling League stars

Victories over Marwa Amri, Odunayo sandwiched by 2 wins over World and Olympic Champion Helen Maroulis over a span of 2 weeks. Stuff of dreams, is it not? That's precisely what India's representative at 57 kg achieved during the 3rd edition of the PWL earlier this year. Apart from supremely fit Odunayo, the Canadian Schaffer, fresh of the Womens world Cup like Macdonald, is a good defensive wrestler but the youth Olympic medallist from 2010,
Pooja Dhanda
should start as the firm favorite in the field of six wrestlers. Almost like the Sushil Kumar of womens wrestling minus the controversies, India's most experienced wrestler Babita Phogat will fight in the 53 kg category. The defending champion from Glasgow at 55kg, Phogat has nothing to show in international competitions since the Rio Olympics where she was shunted out by an unknown Greek wrestler. The recent Asian championships proved a disaster, and she can expect no mercies from the Canadian, Mary Decker who was stopped only by the Japanese at the World Cup earlier this year. The other contender in this category is the African champion from Nigeria, Samuel Bose. The long armed Bose, was like a battering ram at the continental championships.
Also read: Commonwealth Games 2018: Complete list of Indian athletes
India has her very own battering ram, young Divya Kakran at 68 kg. Very one dimensional in her technique, she relies more on her strength, an area where the Canadian defending champion from 63 kg Lappage and African champion (from where else) but Nigeria Blessing Oborududu are miles ahead. The 76 kg category should an open and shut case with the Olympic Champion from Canada, Erica Weibe, all set to retain her Commonwealth title. With the Nigerians and the Canadians in the fray, the competition is certainly tough with the opposition being anything but mediocre. Medals in all the weight classes is within reach but predicting the colour of the metal could be hazardous.
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