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Vinesh Phogat wins bronze, becomes first woman wrestler to clinch two medals at World Wrestling Championships

Belgrade, Sep 14: Star India wrestler Vinesh Phogat on Wednesday (September 14) became the first Indian woman grappler to win two medals at the World Championships as she clinched a bronze in 53kg by defeating Emma Jonna Malmgren of Sweden via the repechage. The 28-year-old Vinesh had also won a bronze in the 2019 edition in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan.

It was a remarkable comeback for Vinesh after her shock qualification round defeat as she beat Malmgren 8-0 in the bronze medal round. She had made it to the bronze play-off through the repechage round after losing to Khulan Batkhuyag of Mongolia, the 2022 Asian championships silver medallist, in her first bout on Tuesday.

Vinesh, a triple Commonwealth Games champion, made it to the repechage round after Batkhuyag reached the final. In the repechage round, Vinesh first beat Zhuldyz Eshimova of Kazakhstan in a Victory by Fall (4-0) decision and then won the next bout after her opponent Leyla Gurbanova of Azerbaijan did not turn up due to injury to advance to the bronze medal round.

Fresh from winning gold in India's stupendous 12-medal winning show at the CWG Birmingham, the 10th seeded Vinesh looked jaded and lost her balance in the final seconds to be pinned by the Asian silver medallist in the women's freestyle 53kg.

Batkhuyag took a 3-0 lead in the first period before slamming the former world bronze medallist backwards to the mat in the final seconds to take four points and complete a dominating win. Incidentally, Indian junior wrestler Antim, who was knocked out by Vinesh in the selection trials, had beaten the Mongolian at the U-23 Asian meet earlier last month.

In the absence of former silver medallist Anshu Malik, Vinesh was a strong medal favourite as she also got a favourable draw after the pullout of reigning champion and Japanese sensation Akari Fujinami (injury). However, she was knocked out in the qualifications.

India had more disappointment in store as Neelam Sirohi lost to two-time world silver medallist Emilia Alina Vuc of Romania 0-10 via technical superiority in the women's 50kg. French wrestler Koumba Larroque, who was fighting with a highly strapped knee, pinned Shafali with technical superiority in the women's 65kg.

(With PTI inputs)

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Story first published: Thursday, September 15, 2022, 0:31 [IST]
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