Vinesh Phogat on Monday created history by becoming the first Indian woman wrestler to win a gold medal at the Asian Games, brushing aside her rivals with remarkable ease in the 50kg category here. Vinesh was a medal-favourite in her category and was likely to face stiff competition from Japan’s Yuki Irie whom she outplayed 6-2 in the final. It is surely a ground-breaking achievement for the 23-year-old firebrand Haryana wrestler, who is connected to Dangal-famed Phogat family.
Putting behind her heart-breaking loss at the Olympics two years ago, Vinesh began her victorious campaign with a revenge win against Chinese Yanan Sun against whom she had suffered that terrible leg injury which cut short her journey in Rio.
This time Vinesh did not give her opponent any chance and came out a dominant winner with a 8-2 score.
In the next bout she brushed aside the challenge of Korea’s Hyungjoo Kim by technical superiority. She ended the bout with a four-point throw.
Vinesh’s semifinal lasted just 75 seconds as she moved into the final with a ‘fitley’. She was already up 4-0 and then rolled over her opponent thrice with leg-lock.
The gold also enabled Vinesh to achieve another feat as she became the only woman wrestler to win two medals in back-to-back Asian Games.
Vinesh had earlier won a bronze medal in the 48kg category at the 2014 Incheon Asian Games.
Vinesh also won back-to-back gold medals in Glasgow and Gold Coast Commonwealth Games this year.
Earlier, Sakshi Malik paid the price for being over-defensive and was left to fight for bronze in the 62kg category.
CWG silver medallist Pooja Dhanda will also fight for bronze after losing her semifinal in the 57kg.
Pinki was the only girl to not reach the medal round as she lost her first round bout in the 53kg category against Mongolia’s Sumiya Erdenechimeg. She could not score a single point and lost her bout by technical superiority.
Sumit Malik, the last remaining Indian in the men’s freestyle, bit the dust in the 125kg category as he could not resist his opponent even for two minutes, losing by technical superiority.
Thus, the men’s campaign finished with just one gold medal from Bajrang Punia (65kg).
Sakshi, playing her first Asian Games, was hardly challenged before her semifinal round as she easily won against Thailand’s Salinee Srisombat (10-0) and Ayaulym Kassymova (10-0).
She was up 4-0 in her semifinal bout against Kyrgyzstan’s Aisuluu Tynybekova but lost six points in a row by the end of first period.
She led 7-6 with a throw but became too defensive with 10 seconds to go. The Kyrgyz took advantage and pushed Sakshi out of the mat to pocket the match-winning two points.
Pooja lost just one point en route the semifinals as she outclassed Thailand’s Orasa Sookdongyor (10-0) and Uzbekistan’s Nabira Esenbae (12-1) but lost the last-four clash on technical superiority to Korea’s Myong Suk Jong.