India’s champion grappler – Vinesh Phogat overcame the second-round disappointment in an emphatic fashion as she claimed a historic Bronze for India in the ongoing World Wrestling Championships 2019 in Nur Sultan, Kazakhstan. Vinesh defeated two-time World Championships medallist Maria Prevolaraki to become the only fourth female wrestler from the country to clinch the prestigious medal. Vinesh registered the win by pinning her opponent.

It was also a double delight for the young Indian wrestler as she secures India’s first Olympic quota for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics in the 53 kg freestyle category. The 25-year-old Vinesh shown excellent defensive skills while registering a win over World No. 1 Sarah Ann Hilderbrandt of the USA in the second repechage round. Despite boasting off a rich medal haul in the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games where Vinesh has won the gold medals, a world championships medal always eluded the top Indian grappler before the ongoing tournament in Nur-Sultan.

In the bout, Vinesh 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.

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 Hildebrandt with some superlative defence in her second repechage round to qualify for the 2020 Olympics. Vinesh is now one of India’s most successful wrestlers with gold medals at the Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games, already in her cupboard. Adding to the elation of the Indian camp was a gritty show by Pooja in the 59kg, a non-Olympic category.

Pooja reached the semifinals with a remarkable come-from-behind 11-8 win over Japan’s Yuzuka Inagaki before losing the semifinal by technical superiority to Russia’s Liubov Ovcharova, the 2017 European champion.