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Vinesh Phogat, Anshu Malik make it to Olympic qualifiers after dramatic trials

Vinesh Phogat won the 50kg wrestling trial, while Anshu Malik won the 57kg trial to make it to the Indian team for the Asian Olympic Qualifiers.

Vinesh Phogat, Anshu Malik make it to Olympic qualifiers after dramatic trials

Anshu Malik (57kg) and Vinesh Phogat (50kg) in fray for Paris Olympics Quota at the Asian Olympic qualifiers. (PritishRaj/TheBridge)


Pritish Raj

Updated: 12 March 2024 6:07 AM GMT

Patiala: After a day of high drama at the National Institute of Sport, Patiala on Monday, the Indian women’s wrestling squad was finalised for the Asian Olympic qualifiers and Asian Championships.

The talk of the day without any doubt was Olympian Vinesh Phogat and her decision to compete in two categories.

Vinesh competed in 50kg and 53kg trials. She won only in the 50 kg trial defeating Shivanee Pawar of Madhya Pradesh in a thrilling final.

50kg trials started after much delay due to confusion about the status of Vinesh’s participation in the event.

Once the selection committee cleared her participation in both categories, Vinesh started with a win against Mamta Rani in the 50kg.

In her second match, Vinesh won against Hanny Kumari 6-0 to set up a clash against reigning national champion Nirmala Devi.

Vinesh made light work of Nirmala Devi in the semifinals and defeated her 10-0.

In the final, Shivani posed a serious threat to Vinesh and led 4-1 after the first half in the final. However, Vinesh made a strong comeback in the second half and scored a four-pointer by throwing Shivani to lead 7-6.

She continued her domination and scored four more points to win 11-6. She will fight for an Olympic quota place in the Asian Olympic Qualifiers, starting on April 19 in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.

In the 53kg category, Vinesh battled in the Nordic system and qualified for the semifinals by defeating Kirti. She, however, lost to Anju 10-0 in her last-four bout.

It looked like a deliberate loss in order to preserve her energy for the 50kg category. Eventually, Vinesh finished third in the 53kg category.

Anshu Malik wins the ‘clash of titans’

Like the men’s 57kg category, the women’s 57kg category was hugely competitive and featured some of the best wrestlers in India.

Olympian Anshu Malik and World Championships medallist Sarita More were the two constant features in this category battling for top honours. This time 2022 CWG medallist Pooja Gehlot was competing in the same category.

In one of the most anticipated bouts of the day, Anshu and Sarita fought a tough battle where Sarita was leading the charge till the very last minute.

But her attempt to push Anshu out of the mat proved fatal as Anshu countered her move and slammed her to take four points and win the trial 6-2.

Among other Olympic categories, U23 World champion Reetika dominated the 76kg category and won the trials to book her place in the Asian Olympic qualifiers.

Mansi Ahlawat won the trial in 62kg defeating Manisha in a closely fought final.

In the 68kg category, Asian Championship medallist Nisha Dahiya won the trial defeating Radhika in a tight final where she was trailing behind but came back to win the trial 9-6.

Indian women’s wrestling team for Asian Olympic Qualifiers:

Vinesh Phogat (50 kg), Anshu Malik (57 kg), Mansi Ahlawat (62 kg), Nisha Dahiya (68 kg), Reetika (76 kg).

Indian team for Asian Championships:

Shivani Pawar (50 kg), Tammana (55 kg), Sarita Mor (57 kg), Pushpa Yadav (59 kg), Manisha (62 kg), Antim Kundu (65 kg), Radhika (68 kg), Harshita (72 kg), Priya Malik (76 kg).

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