Indian wrestler Pinki nearly pinned her German rival Nina Hemmer before losing the heart-stopping 55kg semifinal 6-8 to miss out on a historic final at the World Championship even as the country's men's freestyle squad drew a blank after Rohit's defeat in the bronze medal play-off here on Monday. In a fast-paced action-packed semifinal, Pinki trailed 0-4 after Hemmer effected a take-down move and followed that up with a quick gut wrench.
Pinki kept looking for her moves and found one from a right leg-attack, pushing the back of the German on the mat for two points. She kept Hemmer in tight grip and held her in that position for more than a minute but the referees were not convinced to give away a 'fall' result. After the breather, Pinki levelled the score and then took a 6-4 lead with consecutive take-downs but Hemmer again refused to throw in the towel and pulled off two more two-pointers to emerge winner.
No Indian woman wrestler has ever played a World Championship final. Alka Tomar (2006), Geeta Phogat (2012), Babita Phogat (2012), Pooja Dhanda (2018) and Vinesh Phogat (2019) are the only five Indian woman wrestlers to have won bronze medals at the World Championship. Pinki can join that list if she wins her bronze play-off on Tuesday.
In her previous bouts, Pinki was confident in her 5-0 win over Korea's Kim Soyeon in the qualification round and later pinned Kazakhstan's Aisha Ualishan to progress to semifinals. Meanwhile, Ravinder played his heart out in the men's freestyle 65kg bronze play-off but lost by fall to Mongolia's Tulga Tumur Ochir. In the absence of big guns like Bajrang Punia, Ravi Dahiya and Deepak Punia, only Rohit and Ravinder (61kg) could reach the medal rounds while others made early exits.
Earlier in the day, Rohit pulled off a smart four-pointer en route to a technical superiority win over Turkey's Selahattin Kilicsallayan to progress to the bronze medal match. Rohit took the mat for his repechage round and initially struggled to find an attacking move as he was largely busy defending and was trailing 1-2. However, towards the end of the first period, he employed a double-leg attack and converted that into a pointer to take a 5-2 lead.
His style changed dramatically in the second period as he made move after move to take a winning lead. However, Satywart Kadian (97kg) and Sushil (70kg) lost their qualification rounds to Korea's Minwon Seo and Georgia's Zurabi Iakobishvili respectively. Kadian scored all of his six points by pushing his opponent out while Seo also had six points but the Korean was declared winner on the criteria of having scored a bigger point move. He had two 2-pointers.
The only point Sushil scored in his 1-5 defeat was on the passivity of stronger-looking Iakabishvili, who gradually took control of the bout with his agility and strength. In the women's 62kg category, Sangeeta Phogat made a confident start by beating Germany's Luisa Niemesch 5-2, but lost her pre-quarterfinal 4-6 to Brazil's Lais Nunes De Oliveira. Sangeeta, who is making a comeback to competitive wrestling after three years following knee issues, effected some splendid double leg attacks in both her bouts but lost points on counter attacks and also ran out of steam against the Brazilian.