Wrestlers Anshu, Sonam work out at airport, book flight to Olympics

The women wrestlers reached the venue only hours before the qualification round because of unavailability of tickets.

Published: 10th April 2021 11:44 PM  |   Last Updated: 11th April 2021 12:01 AM   |  A+A-

Indian female wrestlers Sonam Malik (L) and Anshu Malik

Indian female wrestlers Sonam Malik (L) and Anshu Malik. (Photo| Twitter/ @Media_SAI)

Express News Service

CHENNAI: Slightly overweight while on board the flight to Almaty. Sleep deprived. On top of that reaching the venue just couple of hours before the event. No wonder Anshu Malik (57kg) and Sonam Malik (62kg) were exhausted ahead of the medal ceremony. Panting for breath, words were hardly coming out of them. They were unable to express their feelings despite realising their dreams of making an Olympic cut during the Asian qualifiers in Almaty. In the end the two had just this to day: "We are very happy. It feels more special as we made it despite the injuries, travel fatigue and sleep deprivation. It was exhausting but we are extremely happy with the end results.”

The women wrestlers reached the venue only hours before the qualification round because of unavailability of tickets. They could only leave India on Friday morning. If this was not enough, they had a long layoff at Tashkent airport (around seven hours) before flying out. The wrestlers, instead of ruing their ill luck, they turned it into an opportunity. Anshu had to reduce her weight. So started running in the Tashkent airport. “We knew we would not get enough time before the competition so I ran at the Tashkent airport to keep my weight in check,” she said. They even worked out and warmed up within the confines of the airport.  

Both Anshu and Sonam, who train together, finished runners-up in their respective weight categories at the Asian Olympic Games Qualifier securing quotas for the Tokyo Games. Earlier, they had won three bouts each to enter the finals of their respective weight categories.

While Anshu lost 4-7 to Mongolian wrestler Khongorzul Boldsaikhan in the summit clash, the injured Sonam conceded the final to Chinese wrestler whom she had defeated earlier in the first round.
Miles away from the scene of the fight, Sonam’s father Rajender was also all praise for the duo. “Both are fighters. It was not easy especially after reaching the venue only a few hours before the tournament. But they never give up and they have proven themselves enough in the last one year,” said Rajender. The 19-year-old Sonam not only went down 0-6 against the Kazakh wrestler Ayaulym Kassymova within a few seconds into the semifinal but also injured her right knee. But she made a stunning comeback to forge a 9-6 win.    

However, the injury meant Sonam had to concede the final to Jia Long. “The decision to concede the match was taken as she would have aggravated her injury had she contested in the final. We are hopeful she will be able to compete in the Asian Championships starting here in a few days,” said head coach Kuldeep Malik.

The 20-year-old Anshu also won all three bouts including the semifinal by technical fall before going down 4-7 to Mongolian grappler in the final.

Meanwhile, Nisha (68kg) and Pooja (76kg) also won a bronze each in the event but could not qualify as they could not enter the finals. Eyeing Olympic berths, three men freestyle wrestlers from the country will take the mat on Sunday.


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