The Tokyo 2020 dream for celebrated Indian women wrestlers Sakshi Malik and Pooja Dhanda are all but over as the duo were handed shock defeats in the Wrestling Federation of India’s selection trials for the women’s national team in Lucknow today (Saturday).
The 2016 Rio Olympic Games bronze medallist Sakshi, representing Railway Sports Promotion Board in the 62 kg category, was stunned by Haryana teenager Sonam in an intense duel. The duo had ended up leveled 10-each in their Semi-final bout. Sonam was trailing 4-6 in the second period but produced a sensational four-point throw with just three seconds left in the bout to make it 10-10 and win on criteria of scoring the last point.
The 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games silver medallist Pooja was handed a 1-3 defeat by her Haryana State-mate Anshu Malik in the 57 kg quarter-finals. Anshu eventually went on to earn an India berth as she beat another Haryana wrestler Mansi in the final.
The two-time cadet champion, Sonam also went on to win the final against fellow Haryana wrestler Radhika.
The upsets in Lucknow today (Saturday) have all but ended the Tokyo 2020 dreams for the much fancied Pooja and Sakshi as new stars are all set to emerge on the horizon of Indian wrestling.
The winners have earned the right to represent India at the Asian Championship, Asian Ranking Series and the Asian Olympic qualifiers.
In yet another significant result, Divya Kakran wrote off her senior national championship disappointment as she went on to win in the 68 kg category in a clinical fashion.
Reigning 72 kg national champion made the grade in the 76 kg category, defeating Punjab’s Gursharan Kaur in the final. The RSCB wrestler had to compete in the 76 kg category as her core 72 kg is a non-Olympic weight category.
The following wrestlers have made the grade: 50 kg – Nirmal (Har); 53 kg – 1. Vinesh (RSPB); 57kg – 1. Anshi (Har); 62 kg – 1. Sonam; 68 kg – 1. Divya Kakran (RSPB); 76 kg – 1. Kiran (RSPB).
The winners will compete at the first ranking series of the event in Rome from January 15-18, then the Asian Championships in New Delhi from February 18 to 23. The wrestlers winning medals at any of these two events will represent India at the Asian Olympic qualifiers in Xian from March 27 to 29.
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