Wrestler Sonam Malik has sealed her Asia Olympic Qualifiers berth after defeating big guns Sakshi Malik and Sarita Mor in the women’s 62 kg event in the trials that were held by the Sports Authority of India (SAI) in Lucknow. The result also means that Sakshi’s journey to Tokyo has come to a premature end.
The bronze medal winner at the Rio 2016 Summer Games had ignited hopes of making the squad for the qualifiers after she won silver in the recent Asian Wrestling Championships in New Delhi. Competing in the non-Olympic category of 65 kg, Sakshi, who had been defeated by Sonam earlier in the year in another national trials that decided the wrestlers who would make the squad for the Rome Ranking Series and the Asian Championships, was given a lifeline by the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) after she was asked to fight it out in the trials that would decide who makes the qualifiers.
Sonam, who had lost in the early rounds of both the Rome Ranking Series and the Asian Championships, would have been under pressure in the trials, but a calm performance helped her first get the better of Mor and then Sakshi.
Sonam faced off against Radhika in the first round of the trials, defeating her 5-1, and then took on Mor, who got the better of Pooja Dhanda 3-2. In the semis, Sonam defeated the Asian Championships gold medal winner Mor 3-1 to face-off against Sakshi in the highly-anticipated finals. Sakshi had defeated Seema 8-2 in the first round, and then went on to beat Mansi 10-0 on technical superiority in the semis.
The finals was a close encounter, with both wrestlers hardly giving an inch, but the young Sonam finally emerged victorious to seal what can be a career-changing win. Sakshi, whose performances had dipped miserably since the Rio Games, will be left ruing her missed chances.
Other results: Kiran defeated Gursharan Kaur 4-2 in the women’s 76 kg weight category. Gyanendra defeated Vijay 4-1 in the men’s Greco-Roman 60 kg weight category.