Why Vinesh Phogat and Sakshi Malik can light up the World Championships for India
Come the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, wrestling will be one discipline in which India will be hopeful of winning medals.
The road to that Olympic dream begins at the World Wrestling Championships in the Kazakhstani capital Nur-Sultan (formerly Astana) from September 14-22.
The World Championships will be the first Olympic qualifier event for the sport with six spots up for grabs in each weight class for the men and the women wrestlers.
The men’s team’s main hopes will be Bajrang Punia and double Olympic medallist Sushil Kumar while the women’s squad would be confident of their chances with several established grapplers in their ranks.
Here are India’s main female prospects for the World Wrestling Championships.
The grappler from Haryana has been the nation’s shining light for the past few years, winning back-to-back Commonwealth Games gold medals.
The 24-year-old has also been prolific in the Asian Championships, winning three silver medals and three bronze.
Vinesh, who turned 25 today, made the cut for the World Championships with ease, beating Pinki 9-0 in the national trials at 53kg.
She has won gold medals at the Yasar Dogu tournament in Istanbul and the Poland Open and looks to be in fine form heading into the Worlds.
One of India’s two medal winners at the Rio 2016 Olympics, Sakshi Malik remains a force to be reckoned with.
Malik has been a consistent medal-winner for the nation at Commonwealth Games and Asian Championships, beating some of the best in the world.
Sakshi MALIK (IND) df. Aisuluu TYNYBEKOVA (KGZ), 8-5
Sakshi MALIK (IND) df. Aisuluu TYNYBEKOVA (KGZ), 8-5Women’s Freestyle 58kg Bronze
Like Vinesh, Malik cruised through last month's Indian qualifiers for the World Championships beating both Ankita and Reshma Mann with relative ease to make the cut in the 62kg class.
Her aggressive approach and decisive movements have often been too strong for her rivals, and the Indian team will hope she shows that fight in Kazakhstan.
She may be only 21, but Divya Kakran has already mesmerised the wrestling world with some spellbinding performances.
In 2018, Kakran took bronze at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games having won gold at the Commonwealth Championships in South Africa a year prior to that.
Her quick movement and attacking intent has foiled many opponents, and she will be keen to secure a Tokyo 2020 berth in the 68kg division at the World Championships.
These three wrestlers spearhead Indian's challenge in Kazakhstan but the likes of Seema Bisla, Sarita Mor and Kiran Godara will also be hopeful of booking their places at the Olympics.