CHENNAI: Since 2014, wrestler Sarita Mor had participated in every World Championships except the 2017 edition. With the 2020 Worlds being called off due to the pandemic, the ongoing championships in Oslo, Norway was Sarita's sixth appearance wherein she finally ended her medal drought by bagging 59kg bronze on Thursday.
So what kept the Haryana wrestler going despite returning empty-handed five times in the last seven years? "The results might not show but most of the time I lost close bouts. Those defeats also highlighted the mistakes I have been committing. I kept working on those mistakes and finally managed to finish on the podium after seven years," Sarita, who is a two-time Asian Champion (2020 and 2021), told this daily from Paris airport on Friday afternoon. The women's team, which is flying back to the country, had a layover in France and is expected to reach India on Friday night.
Given the experience she had, Sarita and her husband Rahul Mann were expecting gold. However, the 26-year-old wrestler lost the semifinal before winning the bronze play-off. "She was inconsolable after the loss. But she was still in medal contention and I advised her to focus on the bronze bout," said husband Mann.
A wrestler himself, Mann had stopped participating to ensure Sarita continues to live her dream. He is now an NIS certified coach as well. "After the failure at the Worlds, we focussed on the mistakes she committed. She though ironed out those flaws in the next edition but committed other mistakes. So practically this bronze she got after she worked on her mistakes of the past seven years," added Mann.
Interestingly, the only Worlds Sarita missed was the 2017 edition, the year when the couple got married. Before switching to the senior category, Sarita had also competed in the 2013 and 2014 Junior World Championships and 2011 Cadet World Championships. However, despite being in the senior circuit for more than seven years, she has not competed in the Olympics yet.
"The 2024 Olympics is the next target but before it she will prepare for the 2022 Asian Games. She competes in non-Olympic weight category (59kg) but she will start competing in 57kg to fulfill her Olympic dream," said the husband.
Interestingly, Anshu Malik, who on Thursday became the first Indian woman wrestler to win Worlds silver, competes in that division. But Mann is confident Sarita can give Anshu a tough competition and make the weight category her own in the years to come.