Wrestler Sonam Malik. (United World Wrestling)
Wrestler Sonam Malik. (United World Wrestling)

Sonam, Anshu seal Tokyo Olympics wrestling berths

  • Teenage wrestling sensations Anshu Malik and Sonam Malik booked Tokyo Olympics berths as they stormed into the final of Asian Olympic qualifiers in Almaty, Kazakhstan on Saturday.
By Avishek Roy, New Delhi
UPDATED ON APR 10, 2021 05:40 PM IST

Teenage wrestling sensations Anshu Malik and Sonam Malik booked Tokyo Olympics berths as they stormed into the final of Asian Olympic qualifiers in Almaty, Kazakhstan on Saturday.

Anshu was relentless as she punched her ticket to Tokyo Olympics in 57 kg with force and steely composure. The teenager proved too strong for her rivals and won all her bouts through technical superiority and reached the final with a 12-2 victory over Shokhida Akhmedova of Uzbekistan.

She started with an impressive victory over Korea's Jiuen Um 10-0 and then defeated Kazakhstan's Emma Tissina with the same margin. The 19-year-old conceded her first point in the semi-final against Shokhida when the Uzbek wrestler made it 4-2. Anshu stepped up attacks and grabbed six points to finish the first period with a 10-2 lead. She wrapped it up in the second period.

18-year-old Sonam was in trouble in the semi-final of 62kg against Asian Championships silver medallist Ayaulym Kassymova of Kazakhstan as she was down 0-6 at the start of the bout. She, however, made a stunning comeback and turned the deficit against the home favourite, clinching victory 9-6.

Sonam won the right to compete in the Asian Olympic qualifiers after beating Rio Olympics bronze medallist Sakshi Malik in the trials last month in Lucknow. She has defeated Sakshi four times, including in the final of the national championships this year. And with a ticket to Tokyo, she has shut the door on India’s first woman Olympic medallist wrestler.

Anshu will face Mongolian Boldsaikhan Khongorzul in the final, while Sonam will take on Jia Long of China, whom she beat in the first round.

Both Sonam and Anshu have shown promise from a young age and were World Cadet Champions. Anshu has won medals in all three senior international competitions she has competed so far, with bronze at 2020 Asian Championships and silver in Individual World Cup last year.

The third Indian in the semi-final Nisha Dahiya lost to Meerim Zhumanazarova of Kyrgyzstan 13-3.

Six India n wrestlers have so far qualified for the Tokyo Olympics. Sonam and Anshu will join Bajrang Punia (65), Ravi Dahiya (57), Deepak Punia (86) and Vinesh Phogat (53, women’s) – who are all guaranteed quota places from the World Championships.

"Wohooo, what a spirit Sonam and Anshu. feeling ecstatic. Congratulations on qualifying for your first Olympics. I KNow the feeling. Tokyo here we come," tweeted Vinesh.

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