India’s domination at the ongoing Asian Wrestling Championships continued as the hosts bagged four medals in women’s freestyle events — 3 golds and 1 silver — from the possible 5 on Thursday.
Divya Kakran (68kg) started the exploits with a stunning display of attacking wrestling on the way to her first-ever Asian Championships gold. Pinki (55kg) and Sarita Mor (59kg) then completed the golden hat-trick.
Nirmala Devi (50kg), however, couldn’t make it four after the veteran lost in the summit clash to Japanese wrestler Miho Igarashi. She had to content herself with a silver.
Devi had beaten Munkhnar Byambasuren of Mongolia 6-4 before defeating Uzbek wrestler Daulet Bike Yakhshi Muratova by technical superiority en route to the finals.
However, up against her in the finals was Igarashi, the 2018 U-23 world champion. The Japanese got off to an early lead of 3-0, leaving Nirmala struggling for rhythm.
India’s ?? WW Asian ?coming into #WrestleNewDelhi:
65kg – Navjot KAUR (2018)
— United World Wrestling (@wrestling) February 21, 2020
“I was focussed from the start, but the Japanese opponent was very quick. That is the reason I appeared slow at the beginning as I was trying to come to terms with her speed,” 32-year-old Nirmala later said.
Although the Indian tried numerous attacks in the second period, none of them proved to be effective. Igarashi was impressive in thwarting the attacks, including a charge in the final 10 seconds from Nirmala that almost turned the match.
“I tried my best, but my opponent was just too strong. She was very quick and her leg defence was very strong, something that I need to work on,” Nirmala, a three-time Commonwealth Championship gold medallist, said.
Elsewhere, with only six contenders to fight against in the 55kg category, the wrestlers had to compete in a round-robin format. Pinki started out her campaign by beating Uzbekistan’s Shokhida Akhmedova by fall. However, she faced a defeat to Japan’s Kana Higashikawa. Nonetheless, the wrestler beat Kazakhstan’s Marina Zuyeva to enter the finals against Mongolia’s Dulguun Bolormaa.
It was a closely fought bout, with the Mongolian putting in a great challenge. However, Pinki clinically maintained her lead and India’s second gold of the day with a 2-1 victory.
“It was a tough bout. I am happy that I won, but I need to work on certain areas in my game,” she said.
“I was not nervous. I was focussed on creating an opportunity. If I had thought that I’d lose, I’d have definitely lost,” Pinki added.
Satisfied with the results, coach Andrew Cook pointed out that the women wrestlers have finally started believing in their abilities.
“The wrestlers have started believing in themselves. After the 2019 World Championships, we changed the training pattern keeping in mind the Asian Championships. We made them train during the day and evening time to set their body clock,” he said.