Despite losing out to the reigning world champion Mayu Mukaida of Japan in her second round bout of the 53kg category at the World Wrestling Championships on Tuesday, Vinesh Phogat, one of India’s brightest hopes, will be in contention for a bronze medal and an Olympic quota place when the competition resumes on Wednesday in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan.
Phogat was handed a difficult draw on Monday with the likes of Sofia Mattsson of Sweden, Mukaida and the USA’s Sarah Hildebrandt standing in her way to the title. The Indian, however, was not bogged down by it as she came out all guns blazing on Tuesday.
Up against Rio 2016 bronze medallist Mattsson, Phogat was on the money from the very beginning as she took the attack to her opponent, barely giving her any room to manoeuvre and find an opening to get the Indian in trouble.
The 2018 Asian Games gold medallist, Phogat, started with some calculated attacks around Mattsson’s waist that helped her earn four points inside the opening two minutes. Unable to handle the pace and smartness of her opponent, the Swede walked into Phogat’s trap as she extended her lead to 8-0 in the opening round.
In the second, the 25-year-old Indian used her experience to play the waiting game and pounced on an opening to bring Mattson down and flip her outside the area. Though the Swede’s coach challenged the move, a failed attempt meant Phogat was awarded another point and with that a 13-0 win on technical superiority.
No way out
However, up against the reigning world champion in the following round, Phogat was blanked 7-0 by the Japanese.
Taking her time to gauge the situation in the initial minutes, Mukaida went for Phogat’s waist after she was penalised to inflict a takedown, exposed her and then followed that with another takedown to make it 7-0 in her favour in the first round.
The second round was all about being cautious and not letting Phogat anywhere near a scoring position as Mukaida evaded the Indian’s attempts on her ankle to win the tie. However, with Mukaida making it to the final, Phogat will fight it out in the repechage rounds on Wednesday.
Seema in the mix
Joining Phogat in the repechage rounds will be Seema who lost her Round of 16 bout to Mariya Stadnik of Azerbaijan.
Up against the multiple Olympic-medal winner, the Indian showed enough fight to restrict her opponent in the initial few minutes. But as the tie progressed, Stadnik showed her quality and won points at will to put the bout to rest with a 9-2 verdict in her favour.
With the Azerbaijani reaching the final, the Indian will have a chance to stake a claim for the bronze medal through the repechage rounds on Wednesday.
End of the road
Meanwhile, the other Indians in the fray, Lalita (55kg) and Komal Gole (70kg) - bowed out of the competition after their losses in the initial rounds. While Lalita lost to Mongolia’s Bolortuya Bat-Ochir 10-3, Gole bowed out to Beste Altug of Turkey 4-1 in her opening round.
The day also saw India’s Greco-Roman wrestlers ending their campaign medalless as Naveen lost his repechage in the 130kg category to Estonia’s Heiki Nabi 9-0.