Pooja Dhanda celebrates after beating Norway’s Grace Jacob Bhullen to win bronze in the 57kg women’s freestyle category at the UWW World Wrestling Championships in Budapest, Hungary (Pic: UWW).
Pooja Dhanda joined the likes of Geeta Phogat, Babita Kumari Phogat and Alka Tomar, becoming the fourth Indian woman to win a medal at the United World Wrestling (UWW) World Championships. The 24-year-old from Haryana beat Grace Jacob Bhullen of Norway 10-7 in the play-off bout to win bronze in the 57kg category at the László Papp Sports Arena in Budapest, Hungary, on October 25.
Dhanda joined the elite list that has Tomar, who won bronze in the 2006 edition, Geeta and Babita Phogat (2012), capping off a remarkable season that saw her win silver at the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast earlier in the year.
Dhanda, who led 6-1 in the first period of the bronze play-off, had to ward off a stiff comeback from the Norwegian in the second period. Dhanda became over-defensive, conceding passivity and step-out points, and managed to edge out Bhullen thanks to a four-point throw.
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Earlier, Dhanda defeated Alyona Kolesnil of Azerbaijan 8-4 in the repechage round to reach the bronze bout. Her medal livened up the day for the Indian wrestling contingent which had a dry spell so far at the worlds with the only medal coming from Bajrang Punia, a silver in the 65kg freestyle division.
The Indians endured a heartbreak earlier in the day when Ritu Phogat, another medal hope, began with promise before fading away against the tight defence of Oksana Livach of Ukraine in the 50kg bronze medal bout.
Meanwhile, Rio Olympics bronze medallist Sakshi Malik failed to progress in the repechage round, losing 2-3 to Hungary’s Marianna Sastin.
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Earlier in the day, four of India's Greco-Roman wrestlers lost in the first round. Vijay (55kg), Gaurav Sharma (65kg), Kuldeep Malik (72kg) and Harpreet Singh (75kg) crashed out after meek defeats.
Vijay, who is a world junior bronze medal winner, lost 1-9 to China’s Liguo Cao, while Gaurav Sharma went down to Poland’s Jacek Michal 7-3. Kuldeep Malik followed, losing 0-9 to Japan’s Tomohiro Inoue, while Morocco’s Zied Ait Ouagram outclassed Harpreet Singh 15-4.
(With inputs from IANS)
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