Vinesh Phogat makes shock exit from Tokyo Games, Anshu Malik also loses repechage bout


Image Source : AP

Vinesh Phogat of India

Star Indian wrestler Vinesh Phogat on Thursday made a second consecutive heart-breaking quarterfinal exit from the Olympic Games after suffering a massive upset defeat at the hands of Belarus’ Vanesa Kaladzinskaya, here.

Vinesh had no answer to the supreme defence of Vanesa, who got her revenge from the Indian at the biggest stage after suffering a similar embarrassing defeat ‘by fall’ earlier this year in Ukraine.

Related Stories

Later, Vanesa lost her semi-final to China’s Qinyu Pang on criteria after scores were tied 2-2, a result that brought curtains on Vinesh’s campaign at the Tokyo Games.

The top-seeded Vinesh, who was a hot favourite for a medal, needed Vanesa to beat the Chinese to rejoin the 53kg competition through the repechage round and push for a bronze.

Follow LIVE Coverage of 2020 Tokyo Olympics

At the 2016 Rio Games, Vinesh had suffered a quarterfinal defeat against China’s Sun Yanan after enduring a leg injury and was stretchered out of the mat.

This is a defeat that will rankle the 2018 Asian Games gold medallist Vinesh for a long time. Vanesa, the reigning European champion, executed her strategy perfectly as Vinesh could not find a way to wriggle out of Vanesa’s headlocks.

That crippled and rattled the top seed Vinesh, who is one of the strongest wrestlers in her category.

Even when Vinesh got behind Vanesa, she could not push her down on the knees from a favourable position with the Belarusian showing immense strength to keep her legs straight.

Vinesh used all her might but Vanesa’s defence would not crumble. Even the famous double-leg attack that Vinesh has used to get herself into position to pin her rivals, did not result in points.

Before this bout, Vinesh had knocked out Rio Olympics bronze-winner and six-time world medallist Sofia Mattsson with a commanding 7-1 win.

Vinesh had beaten the Swede at the 2019 World Championship as well.

Every time Mattsson initiated a right-leg attack, Vinesh produced a splendid counter to score points. Showing her immense power, Vinesh turned the Swede from a difficult position on the edge of the mat when she could have conceded a point.

The Indian maintained the intensity throughout and even got herself into a position for a pin but the Swede escaped the embarrassment.

Young Anshu Malik bowed out of the 57kg competition after losing her repechage round 1-5 to Russia’s Valeria Koblova, the Rio Olympics silver medallist.

Anshu never looked intimidated by a stronger opponent and was leading the bout at one stage on criteria but towards the end, the Russian pulled off a two-pointer to nose ahead.

The 19-year-old Indian had lost her opener to European champion Irina Kurachikina but after the Belarusian progressed to the final, she bounced back to be in contention.

Seema Bisla is now the only Indian woman wrestler left in the fray. She will begin her campaign in the 50kg category, where she will face Tunisia’s Sarra Hamdi, the African championship bronze medallist.

If she crosses the first hurdle she will up against world champion Mariya Stadnik from Azerbaijan.