Rio Olympics bronze medallist Sakshi Malik and Asian Games champion Vinesh Phogat settled for a bronze each as Indian women ended their campaign without a gold medal in the Asian Wrestling Championships on Friday. Both Sakshi (62kg) and Vinesh (53kg) lost their quarterfinal bouts but made their way to the podium through the repechage round as their victors reached the finals. In the bronze medal playoffs, Vinesh beat World Championships bronze medallist, Qianyu Pang of China 8-1, while Sakshi got the better of North Korean grappler Hyon Gyong Mun 9-6.
With the two bronze won on Thursday through Manju Kumari (59kg) and Divya Kakran (68kg), the Indian women wrestlers ended their campaign with four bronze medals. For Sakshi, a qualifying round win on points against Thi My Hanh Nguyen of Vietnam was followed by a defeat against World Championships silver medallist Yukako Kawai of Japan in the quarterfinals in a victory by fall decision.
But since Kawai reached the final, Sakshi got a chance to feature in the repechage round where she had a comprehensive win over Jiae Choi of Korea in a victory by technical superiority decision to reach the bronze-medal play-off.
For Vinesh, it was moving up to a higher 53kg category from 50kg, in which she had won a gold in the Jakarta Asian Games, after rejig of weight classes by the world governing body for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
She had competed in 53kg at the UWW Dan Kolov-Nikola Petrov tourney in Bulgaria last month and won a silver medal.
Vinesh had a disappointing start as she lost to Mayu Mukaida of Japan, who came through the qualification round. The Japanese was declared a 10-0 winner in a victory by technical superiority verdict.
But since her opponent reached the final, Vinesh featured in the repechage round where she beat Jo Cih Chiu of Taipei in a 6-0 victory by fall verdict.
In the play-off, Vinesh beat World Championships bronze medallist Qianyu Pang of China 8-1 to finish on the podium.
The best start among Indian women wrestlers on Friday was that of Pooja Dhanda in 57kg. She won her qualification round against Sevara Eshmuratova of Uzbekistan and the beat Emma Tissina of Kazakhstan in the quarterfinals before losing 4-8 against world champion Ningning Rong of China in the last-four round.
In the bronze medal play-off, Pooja lost 3-5 to Tserenchimed Sukhee of Mongolia in a close bout.
In the 72kg category, Kiran crashed out in the quarterfinals as she lost 4-7 on points at the hands of Zhamila Bakbergenova of Kazakhstan.
It was disappointment for India in the 65kg also as Navjot lost her quarterfinal bout but reached up to the bronze medal play-off where she was beaten by Aina Temirtassova of Kazakhstan.
The Indian team has so far won 12 medals (one gold, three silver, eight bronze) in the championships. The men’s freestyle wrestlers had won one gold, three silver and four bronze medals.
(With PTI Inputs)