India is proud of Vinesh Phogat as she became the first Indian wrestler to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics when she got the better of Sarah Ann Hildebrandt in the World Championship.
Sara managed to seize Vinesh’s right leg at least 5 times but with upper-body strength, Vinesh did not give away advantage and she won 8-2.
After being placed in a tough 53kg draw, Vinesh lost to reigning champion Mayu Mukaida in the second round.
In her first repechage round, she had easily outsmarted Ukraine’s Yuliia Khavaldzhy Blahinya 5-0.
While it has been a spectacular career for Vinesh with gold medals at the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games, none of her three attempts at the world championship resulted in a podium.
Competing in her fourth Worlds, she is one win away from her maiden medal and standing in her way is Greek wrestler, Maria Prevolaraki.
“I am happy and relieved that I am going to Tokyo but it’s not over yet. I have a medal bout and I don’t want to miss that,” Vinesh said as she walked into the training area.
There were customary handshakes but coach Woller Akos was still not smiling. He was still discussing something with Vinesh Phogat, probably what she needs to do in her upcoming bout.
“Her motion was not at best but the defence was. We had asked Vinesh to move right and block Sarah’s right hand.
“What it did was that it put Vinesh further away from Sarah, not letting her attack. It also meant that Vinesh could go for her attacks,” explained Akos about they devised a strategy in the fall of the American world No.1
At the starting itself, Vinesh mounted more pressure on Sarah, taking 2-0 lead with a take-down on double leg attack. The American thrice attacked Vinesh’s right leg in the first session and twice in the second but Vinesh held her nerves and kept her on the ground, using all her might.
Whenever Vinesh got the chance, she converted attacks into take-down points.
Counter-attacking the wrestler from USA was a new game plan for Vinesh, who had beaten Sarah at the beginning of the season at Dan-Kolov tournament in Bulgaria, quickly after switching to 53kg category from 50kg.
Bajrang Punia and Ravi Kumar have also sealed their berths in next year’s Olympics in Tokyo by making it to the semifinals at World Wrestling Championships at Nur-Sultan in Kazakhstan. While Bajrang got the better of North Korea’s Jong Son 8-2 in his 65 kg quarterfinal bout to earn his maiden Olympics berth, Ravi trounced Japan’s Yuki Takahashi 6-1 in the 57 kg quarters.
During the match, Bajrang was trailing 0-1 in the first minute of his quarters bout but he was quick to bounce back and finished with a 4-1 lead at the break. Son tried to attack Bajrang’s legs in the second round, but it was not enough to push back for a rebound.
Meanwhile, Ravi approached the game with such ease against the Japanese opponent in the semis, than his previous bout in the quarters against European champion Arsen Harutyunyan.
Deepak Punia made the country proud on the penultimate day of the World Wrestling Championships 2019 as he secured an Olympics quota.
Deepak beat Carlos Arturo Izquierdo Mendez of Colombia in the quarter-finals to become the fourth Indian wrestler to seal a berth in Tokyo Olympics next year.
Vinesh Phogat, Bajrang Punia and Ravi Kumar are the ones who have already made the cut for the 2020 Games and bagged bronze medals in their respective weight categories.