Oslo: India will have to wait for its first woman world champion in wrestling as Anshu Malik settled for a silver medal after losing her 57kg final to 2016 Olympic champion Helen Lousie Maroulis but Sarita Mor grabbed her maiden medal at the big stage by winning the 59kg bronze, in Oslo, Norway on Thursday.
Coming into the match after becoming India’s first-ever woman finalist at the World Championship, the 19-year old Anshu began on an aggressive note with positive intent but eventually lost the summit clash after being pinned.
Sushil Kumar (2010) remains India’s lone world champion wrestler till date.
Anshu led 1-0 at the breather but the bout changed in dramatic fashion in the second half. Maroulis got Anshu in her arm grip and pulled her down to complete a take-down move to take a 2-1 lead. She kept Anshu’s right arm under a tight grip and kept twisting it to get an ‘exposure’ point, making it 4-1.
Anshu, the reigning Asian champion, was in terrible pain but the American did not loosen her grip and had the Indian’s back on the mat to win by fall.
Anshu needed medical help immediately after the bout as she was almost in tears. Nevertheless, it was a heroic performance from the Nidani wrestler, who has become best performer for India at the worlds with a silver.
Before this, Alka Tomar (2006) Geeta Phogat (2012), Babita Phogat (2012), Pooja Dhanda (2018) and Vinesh Phogat (2019) have won a bronze each.
Sarita ended her worlds medal drought with a convincing 8-2 win over Sweden’s Sara Johanna Lindborg in the bronze play-off.
Indian women have now bettered their best-ever show at the worlds as winning two bronze in 2012 through the Phogat sisters was the country’s best show.
Sarita stunned the Swede with an early four-pointer and added two more points to her tally with a quick take-down. The reigning Asian champion took a commanding 6-0 lead by the break and pulled off another breathtaking move to race to a 8-0 lead.
Sarita conceded a take-down late in the bout but had a big enough lead to come out winner. It was her sixth attempt to win a medal at the worlds, having failed to do so at one U-23 and four senior worlds.
Meanwhile, Divya Kakran (72kg) lost her repechage round in the morning session to Mongolia’s Davaanasan Enkh Amar and expectedly, the Greco Roman wrestlers put up a disappointing show.
Sandeep (55kg), Vikas (72kg), Sajan (77kg) and Harpreet Singh (82kg) bowed out of the competition. Only Sajan managed to win one bout while the other three lost their respective openers.