CHENNAI: Winning an Olympic medal for the country has been wrestler Sarita Mor's dream ever since she made her senior international debut eight years ago. The dream, however, remains unfulfilled as she mostly competed in non-Olympic weight categories in all those years. But the maiden World Championships medal (bronze in 59kg which is a non-Olympic weight category) last year reignited her dream.
Unfortunately, she couldn't make it to the national fold in the Olympic weight category (57kg) during the selection trials held last month. With the winner of the trials, Anshu Malik pulling out due to an injury, she had a chance to compete in that division at the ongoing Ranking Series (Bolat Turlykhanov Cup) in Almaty, Kazakhstan. But she preferred 59kg and the reason was tough competition in the division.
The confidence paid off as she clinched gold on Saturday winning all her bouts including the final by technical superiority.
Overall, Indian wrestlers won two gold, one silver and two bronze on Day 3 of the event. Manisha (65kg) was the other gold winner while Bipasha (72kg) bagged the silver. Sushma Shokeen (55kg) and Mohit Grewal (125kg, men's freestyle) finished with a bronze medal each. India had won three gold and two bronze medals in the first two days.
"I had the choice of competing in 57kg but the competition was not good in that division. Here in 59kg, I felt I got good bouts. A few wrestlers, who competed here, will play in 57kg in the future so it was a good learning curve. The goal remains the same — the 2024 Paris Olympics and I am quite confident, I will achieve it," the 27-year-old Sarita told this daily.
Notably, in absence of Anshu, Mansi competed in the 57kg and won a gold medal on Friday.
Earlier, she defeated Diana Kayumova from Kazakhstan 11-0 in round one before her opponent forfeited the bout in the next. She then overpowered Kazakh wrestler Aizhan Ismagulova 12-2 in the semifinal to storm into the final. The script remained the same in the gold medal bout with Sarita outplaying Zhala Aliyeva of Azerbaijan 10-0.
Manisha was equally dominating en route to her gold as she won four bouts to enter the final where she outclassed Elis Manolova of Azerbaijan 8-0.
Bipasha, however, lost the final against local wrestler Zhamila Bakbergenova 5-7 to finish second. Susham also lost the semifinal but pinned her opponent Ainur Ashimova from Kazakhstan to win the bronze medal bout 6-0.
Bronze for Mohit
Meanwhile, Mohit Grewal (125kg), whose win over Satender Malik during the selection trials was mired with controversy with the latter slapping the referee after the final, bagged a bronze medal on his senior international debut.
The Haryana wrestler defeated Salim Ercan of Turkey 6-1 in the quarterfinal but lost to Batirmurzaev Yusup of Kazakhstan 10-0 in the semifinal. However, he beat Sardorbek Kholmatov of Uzbekistan 8-2 in the bronze medal bout.