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.
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. The final is scheduled at 10:30pm IST tonight.
She 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.