Ace India wrestlers Vinesh Phogat and Sakshi Malik today secured Olympic quota places for the country in their respective weight divisions at the second World Olympic Qualifying tournament. Vinesh and Sakshi qualified for Rio Olympics by virtue of reaching the finals of women’s 48kg and 58kg respectively on the second day of the competition.
The ongoing competition here is the last qualification event for the Rio Games and only the top two finishers in each weight category are ensured of an Olympic quota place.
With the two quota places today, India has so far secured six Olympic berths in wrestling.
It was a commendable performance from Vinesh, considering that she managed to put behind the disappointment of getting disqualified at the previous qualifying event in Mongolia for being 400 gm overweight.
Let off with a warning after she had assured the Wrestling Federation of India of acquiring an Olympic berth for the country in her weight category in this tournament, Vinesh fulfilled her promise.
She not only succeeded in bringing her weight under control but also came up with an impressive show en route the final to grab a place for Rio Olympics.
It was a cake walk for Vinesh in the early rounds as she thrashed Nataliya Pulkovska of Ukraine 10-0 in her qualification bout before defeating France’s Julie Martine Sabatie 11-0 in the pre-quarterfinal fight.
The 21-year-old Indian continued her dominating show, beating Yumi Lee of Korea 11-1 in the quarterfinal and Evin Demirhan of Turkey 12-2 in the semifinals to reach the gold-medal round rather comfortably.
Sakshi, who replaced Geeta Phogat in 58kg after the veteran wrestler was handed a temporary suspension for forfeiting her bout in the previous qualifying tournament, also justified her inclusion.
Sakshi got the better of Irene Garcia Garrido of Spain 10-0, followed by Zhydachevska Kateryna of Romania 12-2 in the quarterfinals and then beat China’s Lan Zhang in a closely-fought semifinal to make the final and book an Olympic berth.
In 63kg, Shilpi Sheron managed to reach the bronze-medal round after winning her repechage bout against Leidy Marcela Izquierdo Mendez 4-6 by fall verdict.
Although, Shilpi had lost her pre-quarterfinals bout against Sweden’s Henna Katarina Johansson, she got lucky to get an opportunity to fight in the repechage round as her Swedish opponent made the final.
However, the remaining three Indian girls in the fray today—Lalita (53kg), Geetika Jakhar (69kg) and Kiran (75kg) bowed out of the competition in the initial stages.
While Lalita, who replaced suspended Babita Kumari, crashed out in the qualification round itself after going down to Natalia Budu 2-4, Geetika bowed out in the pre-quarterfinal after losing to Tamyra Mariama Mensah of USA 0-5 and Kiran was defeated by Gozal Zutova of Azerbaijan 0-2 in the qualifiers.