Wrestler Antim creates history, becomes 1st Indian woman to win gold at U-20 World C'ships

Wrestler Antim creates history, becomes 1st Indian woman to win gold at U-20 World C'ships

Antim, the 18-year-old wrestler from Haryana, defeated Altyn Shagayeva of Kazakhstan 8-0 in the 53kg category final.

Young Antim Panghal on Friday created history as she became the first Indian woman wrestler to win a gold medal at the U-20 World Wrestling Championships at Sofia in Bulgaria.

Antim, the 18-year-old wrestler from Haryana, defeated Altyn Shagayeva of Kazakhstan 8-0 in the 53kg category final. Antim began her run in the prestigious junior event by winning her opening bout against German Amory Olivia Andrich on technical superiority. The young Indian then defeated Japan's Ayaka Kimura 4-0 in the quarter-finals before moving past Ukraine's Nataliia Klivchutska for a place in the final.

In the 62kg final, India’s Sonam Malik went down fighting to Japan’s Nonoka Ozaki 0-6 for the silver. Priyanka lost to Japan’s Mahiro Yoshitake 0-8 to also bag silver in the 65kg category while Priya Malik too claimed silver in the women’s 76kg category after going down to Japan’s Ayano Moro 1-3 in the final.

In women's freestyle, India finished second overall with one gold, three silver and three bronze medals. The men’s wrestlers stood third in the team rankings with a total of seven medals, including one silver and six bronze in freestyle.

It was Antim who stole the show. In the final on Friday, the gutsy wrestler, who uses the parallel stance, was dominant in her mission for gold by displaying her technical superiority on the mat.

“I was focused on my game plan and didn’t lose my grip over the rival,” said Antim, who earned the final’s first two points within just 25 seconds. “When I go on the mat, I don’t bother about the opponent and remained focused to my own technique and skills.”

A quick mover on the mat, Antim kept her nerves under check and calmly executed her technique. By the time the referee could whistle for the half-time break, Antim notched up two more points to swell her lead to 6-0. Seconds before the six-minute hooter, Antim added two more points in the kitty.

Antim shot into the limelight only a few weeks ago when she missed a spot in the Indian squad for the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham by losing to eventual gold medallist Vinesh Phogat in the trials here in Lucknow. The scoreline was locked 3-3 in the final bout when Vinesh managed to emerge victorious on the grounds of technical superiority.

“Losing to Vinesh in the trials was quite disappointing for me, and I wanted to prove a point here in the Worlds,” said Antim. “The win has given me new hope, and now I will try my best to make it to the Indian squad for next month’s senior World Championship.”

Earlier, world cadet champion Priya lost to Ayano Moro of Japan 1-3 in the final to finish second in the women’s 76kg category. The 17-year-old Indian had defeated Kazakhstan’s Alina Yertostik by fall and then scored a 6-4 win over Turkey’s Melisa Saritac in the quarter-finals.

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In the 50kg, India’s Priyanshi Prajapati defeated Kazakhstan’s Laura Ganikyzy 8-0 to win a bronze medal before Sito beat Melda Dernekci of Turkey 11-5 to also win bronze in the 57kg category. In the 55kg, Manju finished with a bronze medal, losing to Turkey’s Tuba Demir 2-13 while Reetika clinched the 72kg bronze defeating Zaineb Sghaier of Tunisia 4-3.

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