After Indian men's freestyle wrestlers created all the buzz on day one, it was time for India's female brigade to make their mark on the second day of the National Wrestling Championships in Jalandhar.
Easily the biggest headliners on day two of the National Wrestling Championships in Jalandhar, India's Vinesh Phogat and Sakshi Malik did not disappoint a packed stadium. After the first day was marked by fine performances from the male freestyle wrestlers, day two saw Phogat (55kg), Divya Kakran (68kg) and Malik (62kg) take the mat seeking a winning end to what has been an eventful year for Indian wrestling.
Phogat and Malik won golds in their respective weight classes whereas Kakran suffered a defeat in the final. Kiran Bishnoi (72kg) and Sheetal Tomar (55kg) also grabbed podium finish at the Championships.
Vinesh ends 2019 in style
Standing in Phogat’s way of rounding off a successful year with a gold medal was Anju, a young wrestler from Haryana. From the get go, Anju opted for an aggressive approach and attempted to target the legs of the reigning Commonwealth Games champion. Anju registered a successful exposure, near the edge of the perimeter.
After the first round, Phogat needed medical attention as she suffered a bruise on her left elbow. In the second round, Phogat showed her experience as she displayed a brilliant reversal which was followed by exposure.
Despite Anju's continuous efforts to target Phogat's legs, which is said to be one of her biggest weakness, the 2019 World Wrestling Championships bronze medallist showed immense maturity to see off the final round and clinch the gold medal by a scoreline of 7-3.
Sakshi seizes her chance
Since winning a bronze medal at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, Sakshi Malik's career has witnessed a downward spiral. The National Wrestling Championships presented a perfect opportunity for Malik to get back in form and approach the upcoming Olympic year with a gold in her bag.
Coming into the final, Malik faced a tricky opponent in the form of Haryana's Radhika. In a tactical bout, both the grapplers took time to gauge each other's strategy. Malik was aiming to target her opponent's leg but was finding it difficult to spot an opening.
Malik and her coach, Kuldeep Singh were then seen in an animated discussion ahead of the final round. In the dying minutes of the bout, the reigning Olympic bronze medallist displayed a reversal and then a takedown to eventually win 4-2 and end the year in style.
The upset of the competition
Divya Kakran (68kg) is touted by many as the future of Indian women's wrestling. Coming into the National Championships on the back of a successful year, Kakran was the favourite to win gold in her weight category.
She was up against Anita Sheoran - the 2010 Commonwealth Games gold medallist, in the final. In a tightly contested bout, it was Anita who emerged victorious as her immense experience came into play to beat the highly-rated Kakran.
The third and final day of the National Wrestling Championships will see all the weight categories of the Men's Greco-Roman style being contested. Sajan Bhanwal (77kg) will be the star attraction tomorrow in Jalandhar.
Catch live streaming of the tournament on www.wrestlingtv.in.