The Indian women wrestlers proved their mettle at the ongoing Asian Wrestling Championships in New Delhi, returning with eight medals of a possible 10 that were up for grabs, including three golds.
It was a massive improvement from the four bronze that they had clinched in last year’s performance. Before the event, the Indian women wrestlers had just won mere one gold in 24 editions of the Championships, when Navjot Kaur bagged the the top honour in the 65 kg weight division in 2018.
The tournament started with a bang as the women grabbed three golds and a silver on 20 February . Divya Kakran, competing in the 68 kg weight division, was at her attacking best as she won a gold to add to her already impressive resume. The 23-year old had become the first Indian woman to bag a medal in the Olympic category when she bagged silver in 2017 in the Asian Championships, and followed it up with two bronze medals in the Asian Games and the Commonwealth Games in 2018. She also won the top honours in the Under-23 Asian Championship last year.
Along with Kakran, Pinki, in the 55 kg weight division, and Sarita Mor (59 kg) too bagged the yellow metal on Thursday before Nirmala Devi signed off with a silver after going down to Miho Igarashi in the summit clash. It was Pinki’s first ever senior Asian title, while Mor, who last competed in the Championships in 2017, bettered her silver medal showing from three years ago.
While 20 February saw a record-breaking show, the results were rather subdued on 21 February as the women grapplers won three bronze medals along with a silver that was bagged by Sakshi Malik in the non-Olympic category. After a strong of dismal showings in the lead up to the Asian Championships, the onus was on the Rio medalist to pitch in with a podium-winning finish so that she could keep her chances of competing in the Asian Olympic Qualifiers alive. After being defeated by Sonam Malik in the trials last month, Sakshi was under pressure but a commendable showing has opened doors for her to compete in the national trials that would determine who makes the squad for the Qualifiers. With Sonam unable to return with a medal either here or in the Rome Ranking Series last month, the path for Sakshi has been made easier, and she will be hoping to seal her Tokyo spot with another clinical showing in the Qualifiers in Kyrgyztan.
Vinesh Phogat, however, had to be contend with a bronze in what was a relatively easier field. She went down to Mayu Mukaida in the quarters, losing 2-6. Anshu, in the 57 kg category, and Gursharan Preet Kaur, in the 72 kg division, were the other medal winners.