Indian wrestler Sarita Mor launched a stunning fightback to defend her gold medal (59kg) at the Asian Championships, defeating Mongolia’s Shoovdor Baatarjav 10-7 in the title clash in Almaty, Kazhakstan.
The Indian was trailing 1-7 with less than two minutes left in the final but launched a stunning fightback against her Mongolian opponent in the 59kg category. Baatarjav, a two-time World Championship bronze medallist, had the upper hand after a review by the Indian camp went horribly wrong. The decision to contest the decision made it a four-point move for the Mongolian while Sarita lost an extra point for a wrong challenge.
But, when the bout restarted, she immediately made her moves to put Baatarjav under pressure with four points. Still, Sarita had a deficit to overcome with less than 20 seconds to go when she produced a brilliant a 4-point move herself. That move was contested by the Mongolian camp, and the wrong challenge added a point to Sarita who won 10-7.
“I learned about her weak areas and my mistakes after [the first] bout and the coaches had a word with me to correct all that,” Sarita told United World Wrestling. “We had to improve certain things and attack in a different manner. I did all that and won.”
According to the governing body, Sarita became the first Indian woman to win two gold medals at the Asian Championships.
And thus, a day before her 26th birthday, the Indian produced a memorable performance to clinch her second consecutive gold at the continental event. Sarita had also won gold in the 2020 championship in New Delhi.
The 59kg, it is worth noting, is not an Olympic event category.
In what was India’s first medal at the event so far, Seema Bisla (50kg) clinched bronze medal with a 10-0 win against Yung Hsun Lin after losing in the semi-final earler in the day. Pooja (76kg) made it a good day for India, wrapping the day up with a bronze medal in her weight class too.
Earlier, against her eventual final opponent, Mor suffered an opening-round defeat (group stage) but recovered brilliantly to storm into the 59kg final
Sarita lost her opening bout to Baatarjav by 4-5 margin but came back strongly in the next round against Kazakhstan’s Diana Kayumova, winning by technical superiority in the first period.
The lanky Kazkah had good reach but Sarita was agile and aggressive. After earning a passivity point, Sarita unleashed a flurry of moves, starting with a take-down and followed that up with a gut-wrench and a couple of expose moves.
Against Kyrgyzstan’s Nuraida Anarkulova in the semi-final, Sarita was again aggressive from the beginning and finished the bout in a jiffy with quick expose moves after getting hold of her opponent.
In the 50kg competition, Seema had a terrible start as she lost her opening bout by fall against Kazakshtan’s Valentina Ivanovna but made a strong comeback in the next round against Mongolian Anudari Nandintsetseg.
Trailing 0-2, Seema got on board with a passivity point and a take-down. She never looked back after that winning more points by employing gut-wrench and eventually won 7-3.
She faced a stiff challenge from Uzbekistan’s Jasmina Immaeva in the semifinal which she lost 2-3. The Indian then beat Taipei’s Yung Hsun Lin by technical superiority to win the bronze medal.
In 76 kg, Pooja won her first bout 2-0 as the Korean Seoyeon Jeong was too passive and followed that up with a victory by fall against Uzbekistan’s Ozoda Zaripboeva.
Mostly earning points through right-leg attacks, Pooja found a move – again a right-leg attack – in the beginning of the second period which led her to pinning her rival. She, though, was no match to Elmira Syzdykova in the semifinals as the Kazak pinned her with a stunning move. Pooja then clinched the bronze after winning 5-2 against Korea’s Seyeon Jeong, for her first senior medal at the continental event.
In the 68kg, Nisha was ousted after losing both her bouts by fall. Despite dominating a major part of her second round bout that she led 6-0 with right leg attacks, Nisha lost to the Korean Eun Sun Jeong. She had lost her first round to Mongolia’s Delgermaa Enkhsaikhan.
In the men’s Greco-Roman categories earlier, India did not win a medal.
(With PTI inputs)