CHENNAI: While the journey so far has been smooth for Y Sanathoi Devi at the 13th World Wushu Championship in Jakarta, Wednesday could perhaps be the biggest challenge that she has faced in her career.
Having reached the final of the 52kg event, Sanathoi will have to not only overcome world champion Lunn Zhang of China, but also make sure that history does not repeat itself. For, the Asian Games bronze medallist has reached her third consecutive final at the World Championship, but has been unable to bring home the yellow metal.
Having come out second best in the 2011 (Ankara) and 2013 (Kuala Lumpur) editions, Sanathoi will look to right the wrong and get third time lucky. “I had faced Lunn at the Incheon Asian Games last year as well, and she got the better off me on way to gold. I was not feeling well that time, but am in a much better place now. So I expect my performance to be better, and I will give my best,” she said.
Pooja Kadian, another who has been unable to upgrade from silver to gold over the past two editions, will get a third bite at the cherry. She faces another Chinese, Yuan Li, in the decider. “I feel relaxed ahead of the final, and I know I can do well. It isn’t easy to beat the Chinese, as they are the best in the business, but it can be done. It’s all about changing your mentality, and believing that you can beat anyone. Then things become a lot easier.”
Sanathoi backed that thought, saying Indians are not any lesser than the Chinese, Russians or Iranians. “Chinese are strong, but we are also good at what we do. One just needs to avoid mistakes in such matches, as even a small error can be the difference between gold and silver. Our performance this time has been much better, and that only shows how far we’ve come. Practice has gone well for me, and I’m confident of bagging gold, god willing,” said the Manipuri.
The Arjuna also pointed out that refereeing towards Indians needs changing “Sometimes, referees do not award the same points to Indians that they give to other athletes. That can make a match difficult, and we need more support from officials.”
Results: Semifinals: 52kg: Y Sanathoi Devi bt Hyebin Kim (KOR). 75kg: Pooja Kadian bt Sherouk Mansour (EGY).
Pre-quarterfinals: Ali Abdul Khalikov (RUS) bt Rajani Deori.
India watch (Wednesday)
Finals: Sanathoi Devi (52kg), Pooja Kadian (75kg). Semifinals: Surya Bhanu Pratap Singh (60kg), Uchit Sharma (52kg).