New Delhi: Divya Kakran became Thursday only the second Indian woman to win a gold medal at the Asian Wrestling Championships (AWC) after a dominant show in which she won all her bouts by fall, including against junior World Champion Naruha Matsuyuki.
In a stunning display of power wrestling, Divya won all four bouts in five-wrestler 68kg category, as the competition was fought in the round robin format.
Navjot Kaur had become the first Indian woman to win a gold medal at the Asian Championships when she triumphed in 2018 in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan in the 65kg segment.
In a memorable day for the hosts, Sarita Mor (59kg), Pinki (55kg) and Nirmala Devi (50kg) are assured of at least silver medals as they reached finals of their respective categories.
In a depleted field in the absence of Chinese wrestlers and Japan not sending its best challengers, the Asian Games bronze medallist Divya began her campaign by routing Kazakhstan’s Albina Kairgelinova and then knocked out Mongolia’s Delgermaa Enkkhsaikhan. Her defence looked a bit shaky against the Mongolian but she still managed to pin her rival.
In the third round, Divya was up against Uzbekistan’s Azoda Esbergenova. She went up 4-0 with brilliant consecutive rolls and then pinned her opponent to finish the match off in just 27 seconds.
Against the Japanese junior world champion, with her strong left-leg attacks, Divya led 4-0 with a take down and an expose move. The Japanese made a solid start in the second period as she attacked the Indian’s left leg initially but scored points with a right leg move to make it 4-4.
The Japanese almost pinned her but Divya wriggled out of the difficult position. She soon effected a move which led to her victory by fall. She jumped on the mat to celebrate with her coaches before the referee officially declared her winner.
“I had to win by fall to get five points from all my bouts because the Japanese was winning all her bouts by big margins, so I took risk for big wins. My coach had said that I don’t have to go for big throws all the time but I went for it,” Divya said after her gold-winning feat.
Asked if absence of Chinese wrestlers helped, Divya replied in the affirmative. “Yes, it did benefit. But if you have a five-wrestler group it becomes even tougher, you have fight everyone and win big. I won four bouts within two hours. Now I want to qualify for the Olympics and win a gold.
Sarita, competing in her first Asian event since winning a silver in 2017 in 58kg, won her first two bouts by technical superiority against Madina Bakbergenova (Kazkhstan) and Nazira MarsbekKyzy (Kyrgyzstan) before winning 10-3 against Japan’s Yuumi Kon. She will now battle it out against Mongolia’s Battseteg Atlantsetseg in the 59kg final.
Also in the gold medal contention is Nirmala. She beat Mongolia’s Munkhnar Byambasuren 6-4 and Uzbeskitan’s Dauletbike Yakhshimuratova by technical superiority. She is now up against Japan’s Miho Igarashi.
Pinki also reached the 57kg final. She began by beating Uzbekistan’s Shokida Akhmedova by fall but lost the next bout against Japan’s Kana Higashikawa. She led 2-0 against the Japanese but could not sustain her lead. She then won her semifinal against Marina Zuyeva 6-0. She will wrestle with Mongolia’s Dulguun Bolormaa.