Punjab Royals wrestler Nirmala Devi, who brought her team back into the match before Jitendra wrapped it up in style to help them lift the Pro Wrestling League trophy, said she wanted to win her bout even if she died on the mat.
Had Nirmla lost her bout, it would have been all over for Punjab, making the final tie inconsequential, but the girl from Hissar made sure that her team got a chance to bag the title.
“I was looking to win at any cost. I thought even if I die, I am not going to lose against Indu Chaudhary and give my team a fair chance to clinch the trophy,” said Nirmla at the post-match press conference.
“My coach had said that ‘we would pick you up from the mat even if you collapse, but you will have to win it for us’ and that is all I was thinking about and gave my 200 per cent,” the 32-year-old said with a smile.
Jitendra, who ultimately helped Punjab clinch the PWL 2 title, said it was a good fight in the first half before Sumit Sehrawat got injured.
“It became a little easy for me in the second half as Sumit got a little injured and I simply capitalised on my lead, kept extending it to win it easily,” said a relieved Jitendra.
Punjab coach Kuldeep Singh rated Jitendra very highly, saying that he was the best in India at the moment.
“With Sushil Kumar and Narsingh Yadav out of contention at the moment, Jitendra is the best Indian wrestler in men’s 74kg category.”
Odunayo Folasade Adekuoroye, who lost in the dying seconds of the match owing to Sofia Mattsson gaining a point in the end, said she did not want to read too much into it.
“May be it was the referee or may be it was my fault. But we both fought well. Both of us are good wrestlers and it is going to be good rivalry in the future as well it seems,” insisted Odunayo.
Olympic champion Vladimir Khinchegashvili said it was a pleasure that his team won the final against a quality opponent.
“It was a very good team work. We have some very good wrestlers in our team like Ilias Bekbukatov. It is a team competition and we did very well to beat a strong opponent,” concluded Vladimir.