With swollen knee, wrestler Vinesh creates history at World Wrestling Championships

The 28-year-old from Haryana bags 53kg bronze to become the first woman from the country to win two medals at the World Championships.

Published: 14th September 2022 11:07 PM  |   Last Updated: 15th September 2022 12:16 PM   |  A+A-

Indian wrestler Vinesh Phogat (File Photo | AP)

Indian wrestler Vinesh Phogat (File Photo | AP)

Express News Service

CHENNAI: As has been the case for quite some years now, wrestler Vinesh Phogat was one of the favourites at the ongoing World Championships in Belgrade, Serbia. The 2019 Worlds bronze medallist, however, lost 0-7 to Mongolia's Khulan Batkhuyag in the qualification round on Tuesday much to the surprise of all and sundry.

The Mongolian wrestler entered the final giving a new lease of life to Vinesh's campaign. And the 28-year-old Vinesh didn't let the opportunity slip out of her hands this time as she won two bouts in the repechage round (one via injury) and the bronze medal play-off to become the first Indian woman to bag two Worlds medals. The medal was also India's first at the ongoing event.

In the bronze medal bout, she outclassed Emma Jonna Denise Malmgren from Sweden 8-0. She won 53kg bronze in the 2019 edition and qualified for the Tokyo Olympics. Vinesh earned two points in a counter-attack move in the first minute of the first period against Malmgren, the 2021 Junior Worlds champion in 53kg.

The Indian, however, also hurt her right knee a few seconds later giving her opponent an opportunity to keep attacking her right leg. Incidentally, she had injured her right knee during the 2016 Rio Olympics as well and had to be stretchered off the mat.

"The swelling is there but I don't think it's serious. She is expected to be fit again soon," Jitendra Yadav, head of the women's team, told this daily from Serbia after the bout. Speaking on Vinesh's loss in the qualification round, the coach said, "It happens as the wrestler from Mongolia is also a good wrestler. We were quite sure that the Mongolian wrestler will reach the final giving Vinesh a shot at bronze. A Worlds bronze is not a lesser achievement," the coach added.

Despite the injury, Vinesh maintained the 2-0 in the first period and made it 4-0 with more than 1.40 minutes to go for the second and the last period. Desperate to make up for the deficit, Malmgren attacked her leg again only two concede two more points. The Indian added two more points in the dying seconds to register a comfortable 8-0 win.

Vinesh recently became the first Indian woman wrestler to claim a hat-trick of gold at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games. This was her fifth appearance at the Worlds. Meanwhile, Nisha Dahiya of India will vie for 68kg bronze on Thursday. She lost the semifinal narrowly 4-5 to Ami Ishii of Japan to go out of gold medal contention on Wednesday.

India Matters


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