India returned from the Asian Wrestling Championships in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan with a haul of eight medals with one gold and one bronze medal, finishing ninth in the medal tally.
Navjot Kaur became the first Indian woman wrestler to win gold in the senior continental championship in the 65kg freestyle category while Vinesh Phogat took home the silver in the 50kg category. Rio Olympics bronze medallist Sakshi Malik also won a bronze in the 62kg freestyle category.
Here are all the medal winners for India and how they performed
Navjot Kaur became the first Indian woman to stand at the top of the podium at the senior Asian Wrestling Championships. She was impressive throughout her final bout against Japan’s Miya Imai where she recorded a convincing 9-1 win.
The Punjab wrestler started slowly in her category, losing her first group stage match against the very opponent she dominated in the final. Kaur lost her opener narrowly to Imai 4-4 in her first match before turning it around in the final.
The 28-year-old has been around the wrestling circuit a while, as she had previously won silver at the Asian Championships in 2013 and also has a bronze from the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
Kaur, who insists that she took up wrestling only to live her elder sister Navneet’s dream, was in tears as she was paraded around the mat on her coach’s shoulders with the tri-colour draped on her back.
Vinesh Phogat clinched India’s only silver after a tough 2-3 loss in the final of the 50kg category against China’s Chun Lei.
This was her second consecutive silver at the continental event, following her impressive run to the podium last year in New Delhi on her comeback from a major knee injury.
The 23-year-old’s win in the final four was all the more impressive considering that Yuki Irie has been in top form going into the tournament. In the Japanese Championship in December last year, she defeated 2017 world champion Yui Susaki and 2016 Olympic champion Eri Tosaka.
Olympic medallist Sakshi Malik won a the bronze medal in the 62 kg category on the same day as the gold.
While she did not get off to a good start, going down 4-0 in the first 30 seconds after a throwdown by the Kazhak opponent caught her off guard. The Indian quickly recovered to push Kassymova out of bounds to take home the bronze.
Rajender Kumar opened India’s account at the Asian Wrestling championship with a bronze when he fought back from a three point deficit to beat Uzbekistan’s Javokhir Mirakhmedov in the 55-kg Greco-Roman category medal bout.
The 32-year-old, who won a gold medal in the 2010 Commonwealth Games, was staring at a defeat with two minutes left, but came up with a strong showing to level scores at 3-3 and was awarded the bout for winning the last point.
Harpreet Singh clinched India’s second medal at the continental meet as he bounced back in style for bronze at 82kg Greco-Roman category to defeat Uzbekistan’s Nurbek Khashimbekov 11-3.
He was trailing 1-3 with less than two minutes remaining in the bout when he got caught hold off his opponent and rolled him over for a series of 2 points to emerge with an unassailable eight-point lead.
Sangeeta bagged India’s fourth medal at the Asian Wrestling Championships when she defeated Um Jieun of Korea Republic 9-4 on Thursday in the 59 kg freestyle category .
Bajrang Punia (65 kg freestyle) and Vinod Kumar Omprakash (70 kg freestyle) won their respective bronze medal bouts to take India’s medals tally to eight.
In the bronze medal playoffs, Punia defeated Iran’s Yones Aliakbar Emamichoghaei 10-4 while Vinod Kumar edged past Elaman Dogdurbek Uulu of Kyrgyzstan with a thrilling win in the 70 kg freestyle category, by virtue of scoring the last points in a 3-3 thriller.