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Pooja Dhanda sets eyes on podium finish after sealing CWG berth

Pooja Dhanda sets eyes on podium finish after sealing CWG berth

Soham Mukherjee

Published: 7 Feb 2018 10:37 AM GMT
Pooja Dhanda has been going through a purple patch after she ousted an Olympic and world champion, two world championship silver medallists and even helped Punjab to successfully defend its Pro Wrestling League title. Her victory over Helen Maroulis can be regarded as the biggest coup de grace of her career. The reigning World and Olympic champ also bowed down twice to Pooja in the PWL. Marwa Amri and Odunayo are her other victims worth mentioning from the PWL, which has brought her into the limelight before the CWG and Asian Games later this year. 'To beat such accomplished wrestlers is always a happy feeling. I beat Helen twice in the league and it has been a great one month for me but the challenge lies ahead. Two Games and two big championships are coming up and they are more important for me,' Dhanda says. Belonging to humble origins, her father Ajmer Singh is a tractor driver with the Haryana Animal Husbandry in Hisar. Therefore, she wants to keep her feet firmly on the ground as she is aware of the challenges that lie ahead. She has to regularly fly to Bangalore for the routine check-up as she suffered an ACL injury three years ago. Image result for pooja dhanda
"I had the injury during training and when the surgery was completed, I still had to go through a lot of recoveries because it was the second surgery. The first was unsuccessful. It is important because it still pains. I am 100 percent and I have to consult my physio every two weeks to regain my full fitness,' says Dhanda, where she also gets her diet chart fixed. Singh backed the owners to bid for Dhanda during the auction and after her first loss, the veteran coach advised her to fight thinking that she was the best. The motivational tonic worked for Dhanda as he remained unbeaten for the rest of the tournament. 'Once other teams put their money on foreign wrestlers, I thought it would be better to go for the best Indian. Pooja is the sharpest wrestler in India. There is no particular move she has mastered but she is the best in technique and once she pulls off her best technique, no wrestler can survive the hold,' he says. Dhanda's headlock was so stifling that Nigerian wrestler Odunayo, who is known for pinning her opponents, failed to flex even a muscle after she was trapped. She has perfected the move called 'Dhak' where the opponent is thrown over the shoulder to finally pin her to the ground. 'Her confidence rose when she won her bout against Helen. She knew she could do it against others as well. If she wants to succeed against more wrestlers at the international level, she needs to work more on her footwork. I know she has an injury but she has to work hard. Some more upper body strength will make her a very good wrestler,' the coach says. To improve on her fitness and other weaknesses she has already set foot in the national camp in Lucknow, which began on Tuesday. 'I think the girls in Lucknow are very good. I will train with Olympic medallist Sakshi and others like Sarita Mor so I will try to develop myself. During the league, training with foreign wrestlers was unique. They had some different ways to improve my technique, they helped me in a couple of leg movements which I was doing wrong. Now I have to improve more and I have trained with the girls in Lucknow and reached here so I think I can continue with them,' she adds. Dhanda beat Geeta Phogat in the 57kg category trials which promised her a place in the CWG. The young wrestler is ready to bear the country's expectations and she is toiling hard for an elevated podium finish. http://indianexpress.com/article/sports/sport-others/pooja-dhanda-eyes-bigger-battles-after-commonwealth-games-spot-5052779/
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