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CWG 2022: Wrestlers ensure short and crisp wins

Express News Service

CHENNAI:  Ace wrestler Bajrang Punia started India’s campaign with a dominating show outclassing Lowe Bingham from Nauru by a fall. It took the Tokyo Olympic bronze medallist only 1:47 minutes to emerge victorious. He made it look even easier in his next bout (quarterfinal) when he pinned Jean Guyliane Joris Bandou from Mauritius in just a minute. His semifinal bout against local wrestler George Ramm lasted only for 1:31 minutes.

He, though, conceded two points against Canada’s wrestler Lachlan McNeil in the final but won the bout 9-2 to defend his 2018 title and make it three medals in as many Games. He had won a 61kg silver at the 2014 edition.

The script was the same for other finalists — Anshu Malik (57kg) and Sakshi Malik (62kg) — but Deepak Punia (86kg) had to sweat it out. Anshu and Sakshi won their respective quarterfinal and semifinal bouts in a little more than one minute. While Sakshi’s quarterfinal bout lasted for 1:09 minutes, the semifinal ended in 1:09 minutes. Anshu defeated Irene Symeonidis from Australia by technical superiority in 1:04 minutes and repeated the show against Nethmi Porothotage from Sri Lanka to enter the final which she lost.

Only Deepak took more time in making it to the final in comparison to his Indian counterparts. His first bout against Matthew Oxenham from New Zealand lasted for 3:22 minutes. The quarterfinal against Sheku Kassegbama from Sierra Leone was a short affair as he won by technical superiority in 1:33 minutes but Alexander Moore of Canada gave him a tough fight as he won it 3-1 in six minutes (full time). The Indian, however, made up for it as he defeated Pakistan’s Muhammad Inam 3-0 in the final to bag his first CWG gold. He led the first period 2-0 and earned one more point in the second and last period to give India their third gold in wrestling.

The dominating show by the wrestlers from the country once again highlighted the huge gulf between the Indians and their rivals from other participating nations except for Canada and Nigeria. And it came to the fore when Divya Kakran (68kg) and Mohit Grewal (125kg) failed to reach the final as they were defeated by Nigerian and Canadian wrestlers respectively. Both, however, won their respective bronze medal bouts to add to India’s medal tally. 

Anshu also lost her final to Odunayo Folasade Adekuroye from Nigeria, a two-time gold medallist at the event. The youngster from Haryana gave a tough fight to her opponent but couldn’t breach her defence to lose the gold 3-7. The aggression was missing as the Nigerian wrestler was leading 6-3 with only six seconds remaining in the second and final period. She took Odunayo down to secure two points but an unsuccessful challenge from the Indian camp meant she conceded one more point to lose the final 3-7.

Another wrestler from Canada, Ana Godinez Gonzalez, also led 4-0 against Sakshi in the first period of the final. However, the Indian wrestler made a comeback to effect a takedown to narrow the lead before pinning her opponent to win her first CWG gold.

Wrestling has been India’s third-most successful discipline at the CWG. Before the 2022 edition, the wrestlers had won 102 medals for the country only behind shooting and weightlifting. They had bagged medals in all 12 weight categories in Gold Coast in 2018 including five gold.

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