Harpal Singh Bedi
New Delhi: Vinesh Phogat (53kg) and Seema Bisla (50kg) were precariously placed in their bid for a bronze medal each as they reached the repechage round in their respective categories at the UWW World Senior Wrestling Championships in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan on Tuesday.
Asian Games gold medallist Vinesh had earlier begun her quest for a maiden medal from the world event with a thunderous 13-0 win over Rio Olympic bronze medallist Sofia Mattsson of Sweden. Even though it raised hopes of gold, her next bout against the reigning world champion Mayu Mukaida of Japan proved tough.
The strong Japanese kept the Indian on the backfoot and prevented her from showing her usual aggression, resulting in a 0-7 loss for the Commonwealth Games gold medallist. This was the second consecutive defeat that Vinesh suffered at the hands of Mukaida following the Asian Championships.
However, with Mukaida managing to reach the final, Vinesh was presented with yet another shot at a medal as she will now take on former World Championships bronze medallist Yuliya Khalvadzhy of Ukraine. A win over her, as well as a win over last year’s runner-up Sarah Hildebrandt, will put Vinesh in the bronze medal bout versus Greece’s two-time World Championships medallist Maria Prevolaraki and also fetch her a highly-coveted Tokyo Olympics qualification.
In 50kg, Seema Bisla’s second seeding did not exempt her from facing the three-time Olympic medallist Mariya Stadnik of Azerbaijan in the opening bout. The Yasar Dogu champion came up short 2-9 against Stadnik but with the latter progressing into the summit clash, Seema got another golden chance to sniff at a medal and a 2020 Olympic berth.
For Seema to take the bronze, she needs to first overcome Nigeria’s Miesinnei Mercy Genesis, then gets the better of Yasar Dogu silver medallist Ekaterina Poleshchuk before she can enter the bronze medal contest with China’s Rio Olympic bronze medallist Sun Yanan.
In non-Olympic categories, Komal Bhagwan Gole (72kg) could hardly put up any resistance against Turkey’s Beste Altug and went down 1-4 in the qualification while in 55kg, Lalita succumbed to a 3-10 defeat to Mongolia’s Bolortuya Bat Ochir.
Meanwhile, India’s hopes of a medal in Greco-Roman wrestling were dashed when Naveen (130kg) lost to Estonia’s Heiki Nabi by Technical Superiority in Repechage.
Meanwhile a year after securing the World Championships bronze, Pooja Dhanda will hope to shine again in 59kg when the seventh seed takes on the sixth-seeded Belarusian Hanchar Yanu in the Round of 16. A win will pit her against the top seed Yuzuka Inagaki in a tough match.
In 57kg, 30th seed Sarita Mor opens against European Championship bronze winner Anastasia Nichita while former Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Navjot Kaur (65kg) will meet European Championship gold medallist and third seed Elise Manolova. In 76kg, Kiran also has a difficult opponent in third seed Aline Rotter of Germany.