CHENNAI: Days before her debut in the Senior World Championships, wrestler Anshu Malik was appearing in her BA final year examinations. In the circumstances, she decided to skip the national camp being held for selected wrestlers at IG Stadium in New Delhi. At the time, Anshu's schedule was insanely hectic. After training in the morning at Nidani Sports School in her village, she used to travel 120km to-and-fro to appear for her examinations in Rohtak. On her return in the evening, the first thing the 57kg wrestler used to do was to train.
All those hard yards put in by Anshu eventually bore fruit on Wednesday when she created history by becoming the first Indian woman wrestler to enter the Worlds final in Oslo, Norway. Ever since the first Women's Freestyle World Championship, which was held in 1987, Indian women have won five medals, all of which are bronze.
"She is good at studies since the beginning, so she did not want to skip the examinations," Dharamvir Malik, Anshu's father, told this daily. "On exam days, we used to travel 120km but that didn't stop her from training. It was difficult but she managed it," added the father.
The 20-year-old Anshu registered a dominating (11-0) win by superiority over Solomiia Vynnyk of Ukraine to storm into the final. She will meet USA's Helen Louise Maroulis, a two-time Worlds gold medallist and also the first American woman to win an Olympic gold (2016 Rio), in the final on Thursday.
Incidentally, she achieved the feat while nursing an elbow injury (muscle tear). "She was carrying this elbow injury but it's getting better. We are confident that she will be at her best in the final," women's team head coach Kuldeep Malik told this daily from Oslo.
Earlier, she began the campaign by beating Kazakhstan's Nilufar Raimova (15-5) on technical superiority before outclassing Mongolian Davaachimeg Erkhembayar 5-1 in the quarterfinal.
Speaking on Anshu's future plans, Dharamvir said, "After Tokyo disappointment, the 2024 Olympics is her goal but before that she would like to win medals in the 2022 Commonwealth Games and Asian Games."
Anshu also admitted that the Tokyo failure was hard to digest and she wanted to do well in the Worlds to get over the dejection. "I trained in extreme pain. I cannot describe what I endured in that one month after the Tokyo Games," Anshu told the United World Wrestling after the semifinal bout.
Sarita loses in semis
Another Indian woman wrestler, Sarita Mor, however, lost the 59kg semifinal 0-3 against Bulgarian Bilyana Zhivkova Dudova. Earlier, she shocked defending champion Linda Morais 8-4 in the pre-quarterfinal. The reigning Asian champion then defeated Germany's Sandra Paruszewski 3-1 to reach the semifinals. She will now compete against either Ineta Dantaite or Sara Johanna Lindborg in the bronze medal play-off on Thursday.