Wrestling World Championships: Pooja Dhanda wins bronze medal in 57kg category; Ritu Phogat, Sakshi Malik falter

Budapest: India won its second medal at the 2018 Wrestling World Championships after Pooja Dhanda won a bronze medal in the women's freestyle 57kg weight class at Budapest on Thursday.
Dhanda defeated Grace Bullen of Norway 10-7 at the Papp László Sportaréna to join Bajrang Punia on the exalted list of World Championships medallists I'm 2018.

Before Pooja, only three Indian women grapplers — Alka Tomar in 2006, Geeta Phogat and Babita Phogat in 2012 — had won a bronze medal each at the Worlds Championships.

Pooja Dhanda became just the fourth Indian woman wrestler to win a medal at Wrestling World Championships. WFI

Pooja Dhanda became just the fourth Indian woman wrestler to win a medal at Wrestling World Championships. WFI

Pooja, led 6-1 in the first period of her final, but had to endure some harrowing moments in the second period when the Norwegian launched an all-out attack. The Indian managed to stave those off, despite giving away points for passivity step-out points.

What helped her clinch the bronze playoff was a four-point move which zoomed her to an unassailable lead after the Indian grabbed Grace’s leg and rolled her for the vital clincher.

In the previous round, Pooja had defeated Alyona Kolesnil of Azerbaijan 8-4 to reach the bronze medal bout.

Ritu, Sakshi falter

Unfortunately for India, Ritu Phogat could not live up to her early potential and join Poojari as a medallist on Thursday.

She started brightly but faded away against the tight defence of Oksana Livach in her bronze medal bout in the 50 kg freestyle. The Indian lost 10-5.

Phogat seemed to take control in the first period, mostly with the front headlock, only to trail 1-3. But soon after the start of second period, Oksana was the more aggressive of the two as she changed her tactics and attacked the Indian’s leg, which fetched her two points and another couple for the takedown.

Meanwhile, the Indian lost a point for her passivity even as she earned four for two take downs. But there was no respite from the Ukrainian who surged ahead by scoring seven points to seal the Indian’s fate.

Rio Olympic bronze medallist Sakshi Malik also failed to get past the repechage round, losing 2-3, including a challenge point to Hungarian Marianna Sastin, to bow out of contest.

Sakshi, leading 1-0 in the first period courtesy a passivity point, could not hold on to it as she herself conceded one to the Hungarian. But then the Indian went 2-1 up through a step-out. The second period was equally dull and drab but Sakshi made the blunder of conceding another step-out point to her rival with 55 seconds left on the clock. An unsuccessful challenge call by the Indian coach eliminated Sakshi from the tournament after her 2-3 loss.

Dejection for Greco-Roman wrestlers

Earlier in the day, four of India's Greco-Roman wrestlers got off to a poor start at the World Championships with all of them losing in the first round. Vijay (55kg), Gaurav Sharma (65kg), Kuldeep Malik (72kg) and Harpreet Singh (75kg) crashed out of the tournament after meek defeats.

Vijay, who is a World Junior bronze medal winner, lost 1-9 to Chinse Liguo Cao, while Gaurav Sharma went down to Poland’s Jacek Michal 7-3. Then Kuldeep Malik followed suit when Japanese Tomohiro Inoue defeated him 9-0 and finally Morocco’s Zied Ait Ouagram outclassed Harpreet Singh 15-4.


Updated Date: Oct 25, 2018 23:57 PM

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