Vinesh Phogat clinched a gold as she and Sakshi Malik secured Rio Games berths in their respective weight divisions on Saturday at the second World Olympic Qualifying tournament.
This is a historic feat of two Indian women wrestlers qualifying for Olympics for the first time.This is the first time two women wrestlers from India have qualified for the Olympics.
At 2012 London Games, Geeta Phogat was the lone Indian female grappler in the fray.
While Vinesh won a gold in 48kg category, Sakshi bagged a silver in 58kg class as they booked a Rio Games quota place each for the country.
In fact, this is the first time that India will be represented in all three formats — Men’s freestyle, Female wrestling and Greco-Roman — at the Olympics.
Even before bagging the medals, Vinesh and Sakshi had qualified for Rio Games by virtue of reaching the finals of their weight divisions on the second day of the competition.
The ongoing competition here is the last qualification event for the Rio Games and only the top two finishers in each weight category are ensured of an Olympic quota place.
With the two quota places on Saturday, India has so far grabbed six Olympic berths in wrestling.
It was a commendable performance from Vinesh, considering that she managed to put behind the disappointment of getting disqualified at the previous qualifying event in Mongolia for being 400 gm overweight.
Let off with a warning after she had assured the Wrestling Federation of India of acquiring an Olympic berth for the country in her weight category in this tournament, Vinesh fulfilled her promise.
She not only succeeded in bringing her weight under control but also came up with an impressive show en route the final to grab a place for Rio Olympics.
Vinesh was overjoyed at having clinched the coveted quota for the Olympic Games.
“I knew this was my last chance and I think I just put everything I had into making sure that I sealed that quota and proved myself,” she added.
A relieved Sakshi also expressed satisfaction at acquiring an Olympic berth.
“We had been training quite intensively in Bulgaria and I was making sure that I was mentally prepared for the pressure that this competition brought. I was in good rhythm after my opening bout and I just continued to do what I was doing. It was a matter of keeping my composure in the last minute of my semifinal bout against the Chinese wrestler. I am happy that I managed to hold on,” said Sakshi.
Sakshi, who replaced Geeta Phogat in 58kg after the veteran wrestler was handed a temporary suspension for forfeiting her bout in the previous qualifying tournament, also justified her inclusion.
However, the remaining three Indian girls in the fray today — Lalita (53kg), Geetika Jakhar (69kg) and Kiran (75kg) — bowed out of the competition in the initial stages.
Featured image: Reuters