Asian Games 2023: Antim Panghal clinches bronze; Other Indian wrestlers face mixed fortunes
Teen sensation Antim Panghal secured a bronze medal in wrestling at the Asian Games by defeating Tokyo Olympics medalist Bolortuya Bat-Ochir.
Antim Panghal, the young sensation, secured a bronze medal at the Asian Games by defeating Tokyo Olympics medalist Bolortuya Bat-Ochir with a score of 3-1. However, it was a challenging day for Indian wrestlers overall at the event in Hangzhou. Antim, aged 19, showed remarkable resilience, bouncing back from her quarterfinal defeat against the two-time Japanese world champion, Akari Fujinami. She demonstrated her prowess in the women's 53kg bronze play-off by effectively countering the Mongolian opponent.
Antim's performance salvaged the day for the Indian contingent, which was in dire need of a medal after disappointing outcomes for Narinder Cheema (Greco-Roman 97kg), Naveen (Greco-Roman 130kg), and Pooja Gehlot (women's 50kg), all of whom were eliminated. Pooja, in her bronze medal bout, succumbed to a 2-9 defeat against Aktenge Keunimjaeva, the Asian championship bronze medalist.
Expectations were high for Mansi Ahlawat (women's 57kg) as well, but she faced a quick defeat in her bronze play-off, being pinned by Uzbekistan's Laylokhon Sobirova in just 70 seconds.
Antim had entered Hangzhou on the back of a bronze medal win at the world championships, and she maintained her impressive form in this prestigious tournament. Her bronze medal marked only the second wrestling medal for India in this edition of the Asian Games.
Antim secured a 3-0 lead with her first point coming from the passivity of her Mongolian opponent. She later extended her lead with a brilliant counter-attack. While the Mongolian attempted single-leg attacks, Antim's solid defense proved impenetrable.
Antim's inclusion in the Asian Games came about after Vinesh Phogat withdrew due to injury. She had challenged Vinesh for a trial bout, but Vinesh opted for direct entry. Subsequently, Vinesh suffered a knee injury, leading to Antim's opportunity.
In earlier rounds, Antim cruised to an 11-0 victory over Uzbekistan's Jasmina Immaeva, setting up her quarterfinal clash with the Japanese world champion. Unfortunately, Narinder Cheema lost his quarterfinal 1-3 to South Korea's Lee Seyeol, and Mansi was defeated 2-5 by Japan's Sakurai Tsugumi in the last-eight round. Greco-Roman wrestler Naveen also faced a quarterfinal defeat, losing 0-3 to China's Meng Lingzhe.
Bajrang Punia (65kg) and Aman Sehrawat (56kg) are scheduled to compete on Friday.