NUR-SULTAN (Kazakhstan), September 18: Indian wrestling had a lot to celebrate on Wednesday as Vinesh Phogat secured Tokyo Olympics qualification and won a bronze, while Pooja Dhanda put herself one win away from her second medal at the World Championships.
Having endured a medal-less run in three World Championships before, Vinesh finally ended the drought by pinning wrestler Maria Prevolaraki to win by fall in the bronze-medal bout.
“It is my first World Championship medal and it is a big thing to win a medal at the Worlds,” Vinesh told reporters.
“I had changed my weight category and in just 10 months, I got this medal. It is a thing of great happiness for me. It is the biggest medal of my career till now.”
The 25-year-old Indian lost a point for passivity after Maria, the two-time medallist, suffered a cut on her face in the beginning of the bout.
Vinesh made two moves but Maria defended well to keep the narrow lead at the break.
Maria forced standing wrestling, locking Vinesh. The Indian attempted a double leg attack but Maria defended well. The Greek then put pressure on the Indian by grabbing her right leg.
Moments after Maria received treatment on her wound for a second time, Vinesh pulled off a four-point throw and kept her on ground to complete the win by fall.
Vinesh is only the fifth Indian woman wrestler to win a Worlds medal after Alka Tomar (2006), Geeta Phogat (2012), Babita Phogat (2012) and Pooja Dhanda (2018).
Earlier in the day, she had held off world number one Sarah Ann Hildebrandt with some superlative defense in her second repechage round to qualify for the 2020 Olympics. (PTI)