Ritu Malik, Olympic bronze medallist Sakshi Malik and Pooja Dhanda were on Wednesday in contention for a bronze medal via repechage. All three wrestlers now need three wins to land on the podium.
Ritu Malik, who had defeated celebrated Geeta Phogat in the trials, edged out Bulgaria’s Sofiya Hristova Georgieva 9-8 in the repechage round despite lagging behind twice in an exciting bout. CWG silver medallist Pooja Dhanda lost 3-4 to China’s Ningning Rong in the quarter-finals in the 57kg event.
Ningning reaching the final assured Dhanda of a chance to land a bronze medal. Sakshi was outclassed 2-16 by Japan’s Yukako Kawai, a two time World Cup gold winner in the 62kg category. Kawai also reached the final in her weight category.
Malik suffered a humiliating quarter-final defeat. Sakshi lost a point for passivity but took the break with a 2-1 lead after a takedown move.
However, in the second period, the Japanese inflicted a humiliation on the Indian. Yukako took three points with a leg-hold move and consolidated the lead with a take down. She followed it up with ‘fitley’, rolling Sakshi four times to log eight points.
Sakshi had endured a below-par show at the Commonwealth Games, where she won a bronze in a weak field and failed to reach the medal round at the Jakarta Asian Games.
Ritu Malik now has a task at hand as she is up against 2017 U-23 world champion and this year’s World Cup gold medal winner Ayana Gempei from Japan.
In the 50kg category, Ritu Phogat, who replaced her injured cousin Vinesh Phogat, made a stupendous start by winning the pre-quarterfinal against Thi Yuan Nguyen by technical superiority but lost the quarter-final by fall to Yui Susaki, the 2017 world champion in 48kg category. Pinki (53kg) lost her quarter-final to Poland’s Katarzyna Krawczyk 2-7.
(With PTI inputs)