Bengaluru, November 1: Pooja Gehlot (53kg) stormed into the final to continue India's quest for the first gold medal from the UWW Under-23 World Championships 2019 in Budapest, Hungary on Thursday (October 31).
It was a fantastic display from the Sonipat-born youngster who got the better of 2018 Junior European Wrestling Championships gold medallist Zeynep Yetgil of Turkey 8-4 to advance to Friday's summit showdown with Japan's 2017 world champion Haruna Okuno.
"I had undergone long hours of training and had put so much effort to prepare for this World Championships," said Gehlot after her semi-final win.
"The opponent was an experienced player with great technique and power play. However, I was confident of my game. Initially, I was patient and focussed to understand her style of play without letting my guard down. I maintained my defence really well," added the 2017 Asian Junior Championships gold medallist.
The daughter of a lab assistant, who lost four crucial years due to a serious shoulder injury, began her campaign from the qualifying stages in Budapest, right from where she sparkled.
After demolishing Ekaterina Verbina of Russia 8-3 in the qualifiers, she progressed into the quarter-finals, where Gehlot notched up a commanding 8-0 win over Taipei's Meng Hsuan Hsieh.
"Once I got the hang of the game in the initial round, I went full blast to attack and ensure I get full points from my attacks. The coach also had advised me to go full throttle whether it's defence or attack. I followed his advice and am really happy with my performance so far. I am going to give my all in the final and hope I can win the Gold," Pooja said on her overall performance this week.
Gehlot is the second Indian to make it to the final of this edition of the championships following men's freestyle expert, Ravinder (61kg), who won silver on Wednesday (October 30).
The final is scheduled at 10:30pm IST on Friday (November 1), will be shown live on WrestlingTV.
GRECO ROMAN ACTION FROM NOVEMBER 1
The Greco-Roman wrestling action begins today, where five Indians will be in the medal hunt, led by Sajan Bhanwal, who has three medals from the World Junior Championships in 77kg. Bhanwal starts from the qualifying stages where he meets USA's Porter. In 63kg, Rajeet has been seeded second but has a tough opener in the form of top seed Slavik Galstyan.
Arjun Halakurki kickstarts his campaign against Italy's Freni in the 55kg qualifiers while Sunil Kumar takes on Algeria's Sid Azara in the same stage in 87kg. Deepak Poonia has USA's Orndorff in the 130kg qualifying round.
The entire action from the seven-day UWW U-23 World Championships 2019 is being streamed live and exclusive on www.wrestlingtv.in, India's one-stop destination for wrestling news. The latest updates will also be available on WrestlingTV's social media handles - @Wrestlingtvindia/ (Facebook), @wrestlingtvIND (Twitter) and @wrestlingtv.in (Instagram).
Who is Pooja Gehlot?
Daughter of a lab assistant, Pooja Gehlot stands on the brink of creating history as she is one step away from a gold medal at the UWW U23 World Championships in 53 Kg. This wrestler from Sonipat, Haryana is well aware of the challenges and obstacles are not unknown to her. Four years back, while she was training with the boys, she got injured on her left shoulder, dislodging a bone. After treatment with local doctors and rest for a few months, Pooja was back on the mat only to realise that the return was premature as she had injured both her shoulders this time. She had to quit wrestling and focus on her rehabilitation for two years.
The wrestler, who trains in Rohtak with coach Mandeep, had to prepare herself from scratch once she recovered from injury, which took away four crucial years. Inspired by her uncle, Pooja took wrestling in her childhood and wants to emulate the success of Vinesh Phogat. Pooja also happens to fight in the same weight category as Vinesh and aims to make the country proud. With 3 siblings, Pooja already has ensured her elder sister's marriage with the prize money of Rs.10 lakhs she won from a gold medal win at a state-level dangal.
Pooja's Major Achievements
2014- Junior Nationals -Gold
2015- Junior Nationals -Bronze
2017- Junior Nationals- Bronze
2017- Asian Junior Championships-Gold
2019- Junior Nationals- Gold
Source: Press Release