Anshu Malik cruised through her bouts until she faltered at the final hurdle against Japanese Tsugumi Sakurai to finish with a silver medal in the 57kg category at the Asian Wrestling Championships in Ulaanbaatar on Friday. The Indian was the defending champion, but Sakurai—the world champion in 55kg who had moved up in weight category—brought a swift end to her challenge by pinning her down while leading 4-0.
India claimed another silver medal as Radhika, the U-23 Worlds bronze medallist, underlined her growing stature. She battled through some tough bouts, overturning big leads to claim her first medal of the Asian Championships. Manisha (62kg) clinched bronze as the Indian women’s team finished with five medals.
Anshu dominated her opponents in the round-robin format where seven wrestlers were in fray. The Indian has stepped up brilliantly ever since returning from Tokyo Olympics empty-handed. She became the first Indian woman wrestler to win silver at the World Championships in Oslo last year. On Friday, Anshu came out all guns blazing, twisting and rolling her opponents to secure victories.
In her first bout against Uzbekistan’s Shokhida Akhmedova, Anshu was relentless with her attacks and opened with a four-pointer. She brought her down again and scored six more points with gut wrenches to finish it with just over a minute on the clock. Singaporean Danielle Sue Ching Lim’s challenge also did not last long as Anshu quickly collected 10 points to win on superiority.
In the semi-final against Bolortuya Khurelkhuu of Mongolia, Anshu was again at her attacking best, opening up a lead of four points and winning her bout well inside the first period. Japan’s Sakurai was equally dominant against her rivals and did not give Anshu much of a chance in the final, winning with a pin under a minute. It was Anshu’s third medal at the Asian Championships.
Radhika, on the other hand, was in deep trouble in the earlier rounds. After losing to Miwa Morikawa of Japan 0-10, Radhika came back to beat Ariukhan Jumabaeva of Uzbekistan by fall. Jumabaeva had scored two points before the Indian’s counter-attack caught her unawares. Against Mongolian Purevsuren Ulziisaikhan, however, Radhika was trailing 1-6. But she defended well and countered her opponent’s attack to score a takedown and get six points at a go, taking a lead of 7-6 and eventually winning on points (8-6). She defeated Kazakhstan’s Aben Dariga 10-0 to finish with three wins from four bouts. Morikawa won the gold.
India have so far collected 10 medals with the freestyle wrestlers in action on the last two days of the competition. Olympic medallists Ravi Dahiya (57kg) and Bajrang Punia (65kg) will be expected to break the gold medal drought.