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Ritu Malik beats Navjot Kaur and Geeta Phogat, earns berth for World Wrestling Championship

Gold medallist in the last year’s Commonwealth Championship, Ritu Malik overpowered Navjot Kaur, a Glasgow Commonwealth Games’ bronze medallist.

other sports Updated: Jun 29, 2018 23:56 IST
Sharad Deep
Sharad Deep
Hindustan Times, Lucknow
Ritu Malik,Navjot Kaur,Geeta Phogat
Ritu overpowered Navjot, a Glasgow Commonwealth Games’ bronze medallist and the first Indian woman wrestler to win an Asian gold medal in 65 65 kg weight category. (Image for representation purposes)(HT Photo)

Juniors defeating seniors in crucial bouts is no longer a surprise, at least in women wrestling in India.

Young Ritu Malik accounted for Asian Championship gold medallist Navjot Kaur and Olympian Geeta Phogat in style earning a berth in the Indian squad for the World Wrestling Championship, scheduled to be held at Budapest in Hungary later this year.

Gold medallist in the last year’s Commonwealth Championship, Haryana’s Ritu overpowered Navjot, a Glasgow Commonwealth Games’ bronze medallist and the first Indian woman wrestler to win an Asian gold medal, on the basis of points, at the SAI centre here during the trials in the 65 kg weight category.

A confident looking Ritu remained focused from the word go and never lost control over the proceedings. She hardly gave any chance to Navjot to dictate terms and surprised everyone with her skills to let her rival running around her for a hold in frustration.

Much was expected from 2010 Commonwealth Games gold medallist Geeta Phogat, but there was no stopping for Ritu in her qualification bout. She caught experienced Olympian Geeta on the wrong foot and won a thriller on points.

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It turned out to be a cliffhanger for Ritu as Geeta held the proceedings for long before losing her steam against an energetic and young rival.

“Now, you can’t take even juniors lightly as they are capable enough to pose a problem for one,” team coach Kuldeep Malik said on Friday. “Now, there is a marginal difference between seniors and juniors and it’s just a matter of experience between them.”

He, however, accepted that even without Geeta and Navjot, the team was quite balanced. “Certainly, we will miss experienced wrestlers like Geeta and Navjot in the World Championship in October but the youngsters are good to shoulder the responsibility,” he said, adding, “It would also be a big opportunity for young wrestlers to cement their places in the future Indian teams too.”

Others who made it to the squad includ Pinki (53 kg), Seema (55 kg), Pooja Danda (57 kg), Sangeeta Phogat (59 kg), Divya Kakran (68 kg), Rajani (72 kg) and Kiran (76 kg).

Selection trials finals will be held between Vinesh Phogat and Ritu Phogat in 50 kg and between Olympic bronze medallist Sakshi Malik and Sarita in 62 kg after the Asian Games as Vinesh and Sarita weren’t available due to some unavoidable reasons.

There were some thrilling moments when a young wrestler lost her crucial bout after failing to lodge a protest. In fact, the protest could have helped her gain vital points but she didn’t go for a protest or demanded replay of the crucial moments.

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“She was in an advantageous position as the video replay found her correct but she should have protested at that moment itself as per the rule of the game. It’s just a case of inexperience,” said a technical official.

“We have enough time to get ready for the World Championship, and right now we are focused on our planning for the Asian Games,” said Kuldeep, who hoped to see Indian wrestlers carrying forward their good show of Gold Coast Commonwealth Games at Jakarta Asian Games.

Both Sakshi, who had a bronze medal at the Gold Coast, and Vinesh were exempted from the trials by the Wrestling Federation of India because of their current form and past performances.

The two would be carrying India’s hopes in the 50 kg and 62 kg freestyle categories. Pinki (53 kg), Pooja Dhanda (57 kg), Divya Kakran (68 kg) and Kiran (72 kg) are four others in the Indian squad for the Jakarta Games.

First Published: Jun 29, 2018 23:08 IST