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Wrestling

Indian wrestlers build confidence at Budapest Series ahead of Paris Olympics

Indian wrestlers delivered an impressive performance at the Budapest Ranking Series, boosting their confidence ahead of the Paris Olympics.

Indian wrestlers build confidence at Budapest Series ahead of Paris Olympics
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India earn four medals at the Budapest Ranking Series in Hungary.

By

Deepanshu Jain

Updated: 9 Jun 2024 12:25 PM GMT

Wrestling is one of India's most prominent sports, having provided multiple Olympic medals to the country. With the Paris Olympics just 47 days away, six Indian wrestlers are ready to take on the challenge and continue the legacy of Indian wrestling.

The last couple of years haven't been very good for Indian wrestlers due to various reasons, including protests, a United World Wrestling (UWW) ban, and injuries. However, the wrestlers are slowly regaining momentum, having secured six quota places for the Olympics.

While predicting medal chances at these coveted games is challenging, their performance at the last major international tournament before Paris has shown them a path to follow and highlighted areas for improvement.

Tournament review:

Indian wrestlers had a very solid result at the Budapest Ranking Series, as the four of the five wrestlers came out with the solid medal-winning performances at the event.

The competition was not one of the best at this tournament but still provided a good training stint for them. The first day started with India's only male wrestler, Aman Sherawat in men's 57 Kg.

Aman started the competition with two dominating wins where he finished both the match on a classy spree of leg laces. The real challenge for him came out in the final bout where he was up against Rei Higuchi of Japan.

Aman looked clueless in the match against the reigning world medalist, as Rei didn't gave him any chance of attack and build his own swift leg attacks. Hence, Aman have to settle with a silver medal but got a good lesson before the Paris Olympics.

Then, the action turned towards the four women wrestlers as Nisha Dahiya decided to withdrew from the event. Three of the four female wrestlers finished the tournament with a medal.

Antim Panghal returning to the circuit after almost a gap of almost eight months in 53 Kg, looked bit rusty in the attack and made few close wins to reach the final. The final was a rematch of the quota bout at 2023 world championships.

Where, Antim came from behind to win against Jonna Malmgren of Sweden but this time the Swedish took a revenge and win the match. Meanwhile, Vinesh Phogat (50 Kg) was the only wrestler to went medal less from the event.

As, she conceded a] defeat to the speedy Chinese wrestler, Zhu Jiang. Vinesh was no way near her best form and looked a bit out of touch in the match, which left her with a lot of questions before the Olympics.

The best looking wrestler of the tournament for India, arguably was Anshu Malik (57 Kg), who also upset the reigning world medalist Anastasia Nichita of Moldova. She was looking sloid but in the final against China's Kexin Hong, she made a mistake and lost the match.

Anshu couldn't do anything as Hong got a good grip of leg laces and Anshu conceded a slight injury in the process. The final wrestler in fray was Reetika Hooda in one of the most open category in women's wrestling, 76 Kg.

Reetika is one of those wrestlers who have gone up in ranks from last one year and posted a solid threat to the world's best wrestlers. Similarly, she found few good wins here to cinch a silver medal. .

She lost her bout to Colombia's Tatiana Rentería in one of the best match of the tournament where Reetika showed some immense core strength but in the dying moments, Tatiana find an opening to win a take down and the match.

Budapest Ranking Series: India returns with 4 silver medals courtesy of Aman Sehrawat,Antim Panghal,Anshu Malik & Reetika Hooda.

Rise of women's wrestling

Indian female wrestlers are one of the most improved sector of this sport in India in the last 3-4 years. The result are coming up now as Indian female wrestlers grabbed the five of the six possible quotas for the Paris Olympics.

The medals conversion in the women's wrestling category has also risen up from the last few years, example, the recently happened Budapest Ranking series where the Indian women's wrestlers won three medals.

In fact, Antim Panghal was the lone medalist from India at the last world championships in Belgrade 2023. Also, at the Asian Games 2023, half (3) of the Indian wrestling medals came out in the women's wrestling category.

this states that the Paris Olympics will be an interesting one for India as all five female wrestlers have proved on times that they can beat the world's best wrestlers.

It's a tricky task to predict the medal chances but if they hold on the pressure of the big stage, we might get few surprising medals from this discipline.

Aman - the lone male player at Paris

Aman Sherawat will be the lone representative from India at the Paris Olympics in the men's section. This is one of the most surprising change in wrestling since the Tokyo Olympics.

India won two medals from the men's freestyle category, Ravi Dahiya (57 Kg), Bajrang Punia (65 Kg) at Tokyo and now with only one representative at Paris is a very disheartening fact for Indian wrestling.

Aman is the newest rising star from India in the sport and has immensely improved over the past two years by winning multiple medals. He will now represent India at the Paris Olympics in 57 Kg as he won the quota spot at world qualifiers last month.

Aman has a very tough task in hand at Paris to reach near the podium in a highly talented field but he will definitely try hard for that and might even turn the tables to force few upset at the event.

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