Vinesh Phogat Seals Paris 2024 Olympics Quota in Women’s 50 Kg Category – News18

Looking as dominant as ever, Vinesh Phogat locked Paris Olympics quota in the women’s 50kg category, reaching the final at the Asian Olympic Qualifier without conceding a single point, here Saturday.

It is India’s second quota place for the Paris Games as Antim Panghal had earned a quota in the 53kg category with her bronze medal-winning show at the World Championships last year.

The 29-year-old Vinesh has now secured her third straight Olympic quota, having featured in the Rio Games (2016) and Tokyo (2020) earlier.

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Vinesh, who was a prominent face of protest against former WFI chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, dished out a strong performance, demolishing her opponents one by one.

As is her wont, Vinesh looked for that one opportunity to subdue Miran Cheon in her opening bout and grabbed it after measuring her Korean rival for about 30 seconds.

Once she grabbed Cheon and pushed her down for a takedown, the bout ended in a jiffy, in one minute and 39 seconds.

It was difficult to wriggle out of Vinesh’s stronghold. The Indian employed gut wrench move thrice and mixed that with one ‘expose’ to finish the bout.

The next bout lasted a mere 67 seconds. Cambodia’s Smanang Dit was easy prey. Vinesh pinned her in no time to move to the women’s 50kg semifinal.

The celebrated Indian faced some resistance from 19-year-old Kazakh wrestler Laura Ganikyzy in the semifinals but she used all her experience to foil the attacks employed by her younger rival.

Twice Laura went for left-leg attacks but Vinesh scored on the counter and led 4-0 by the end of the first period. This was the first time Vinesh was pushed to the second period in this tournament.

Once Vinesh got hold of Laura, she had no problem in employing consecutive gut-wrench moves to finish the bout.

Vinesh was competing in the 50kg category after winning the selection trials.

The finalists at this competition are being awarded quota places for the 2024 Summer Olympics.

India can secure three more quotas through Anshu Malik (57kg), Mansi Ahlawat (62kg) and Reetika (76kg) as they have also reached the semifinals in their respective categories.

The 2021 World Championship silver medallist Anshu had no problem while putting it across Kyrgyzstan’s Kalmira Bilimbekova in the quarterfinal, winning by technical superiority.

The U23 world champion Reetika did not have to break much sweat in outclassing Eunju Hwang.

She won the first round by technical superiority as the Korean had no answer to Reetika’s class and got a similar win under her belt against Mongolia’s Davaanasan Enkh Amar.

In the final group bout against China’s Juang Wang, Reetika raced to an 8-0 lead but the Chinese fought back and logged six straight points.

She effected another move at the dying moments but much to the relief of the Indian camp, that point was not awarded because it came at the end of the stipulated time.

Mansi also made it to the last four as she needed to win just one bout. Up against Kazakhstan’s Irina Kuznetsova, she emerged a 6-4 winner.

The only Indian wrestler who could not reach the semifinals was Nisha Dahiya (68kg).

Nisha had to work hard for her opening win against Sol Gum Pak from North Korea. The Indian had raced to a 5-0 lead and maintained that till the first period, but the Korean put the pressure back on her rival with a strong resistance.

Immediately at the start of the second period, Pak successfully got a take-down move to get onto the scoreboard. However, Nisha kept pushing Pak out to extend her lead and eventually won 8-3.

Already exhausted, Nisha was outclassed by local favourite Meerim Zhumanazarova in round 2, in which she suffered a heavy defeat.

After falling behind 1-9, she was pinned by Meerim. Nisha could hardly employ any attacking move and was mostly involved in standing wrestling.

In the must-win round 3, Nisha overpowered Kazakhstan’s Yelena Shalygina but with Meerim losing her final group bout, Nisha did not have enough points to stay in top-four.

The last chance to win the Paris Games quota will be at the World Qualifiers in Turkey from May 9.

(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed – PTI)