Babita Kumari lost her opening women’s 53 kg category wrestling bout 1-5 against Maria Prevolaraki of Greece and got eliminated from the competition in the Olympic Games on Thursday.
Getting on the mat a day after teammate Sakshi Malik had provided India with their first medal in the Games, a bronze in the 58 kg class, much was expected of Babita, winner of two medals in past Commonwealth Games and bronze medalist in the World Championship in 2012.
But the 26-year-old grappler could not succeed against the tight defense put up by her Greek rival and lost points in both the periods of their pre-quarter final bout.
And when Maria too lost her quarter-final bout against Venezuela’s Betzabeth Angelica Arguello Villegas 3-6, it spelt curtains for the Indian’s slim hopes of replicating Sakshi and win a bronze through the repechage process.
In both the three-minute periods, Babita got a leg hold on her rival but the Greek somehow managed to extricate out of the difficult situation and turn the tables on the Indian grappler.
Maria took a 3-0 lead in the opening period when she wriggled out of the one-leg hold applied by Babita and went behind the Indian girl to get two points after having thrown her opponent out of the safety zone on the mat earlier to log her first point.
Babita, an Arjuna awardee who won the silver medal in the CWG at Delhi six years ago, had a chance to log some valuable points due to the 30-second passivity rule applied against her rival, but could get no more than one.
That was the lone point Babita secured as Maria got out of the Indian’s double leg hold and then, like in the first period, escaped from a two leg hold to move behind Babita to secure two more points.
Trailing 1-5 Babita needed to flip her rival down from a standing position to level the score but failed to do so in spite of a good attempt and Maria won the bout to move into the quarter finals.
Yesterday while Sakshi won bronze in the 58 kg, Babita’s cousin Vinesh Phogat suffered a ligament tear during her bout in the 48 kg class against a Chinese rival, got stretchered out and also bowed out of the wrestling competition.
The elimination of Babita brought to an end Indian challenge in the women’s section of wrestling at the Games.