India’s star wrestler Vinesh Phogat was pushed out of the World Championship title race after facing defeat from the defending champion Mayu Mukaida of Japan in Nur-Sultan (Kazakhstan) on Tuesday (September 17).
It was Vinesh’s second consecutive defeat against the Japanese this season which comes after losing to the two-time world champion at the Asian Championship in China.
Vinesh has Commonwealth Games and Asian Games titles to her name but is yet to win a medal at the Worlds.
Mukaida has reached the semifinals and one more win for her will keep Vinesh not only in the medal hunt but also for Tokyo Olympics qualification.
In the 50kg category, Seema Bisla lost her pre-quarterfinal match 2-9 to three-time Olympic medallist Mariya Stadnik. The Azerbaijani has also reached the semifinals, keeping Seema alive in the competition.
In non-Olympic categories, Komal Gole was too defensive against Turkey’s Beste Altug and lost her 72kg Qualification bout 1-4, while Lalita was outplayed 3-10 by Mongolia’s Bolortuya Bat Ochir in 55kg.
Both Lalita and Komal are now out of the championship since Bolortuya and Altug later lost their respective quarterfinals.
Placed in an extremely tough 53kg bracket, Vinesh made a dominating start by outclassing Rio Olympic bronze medallist Sofia Mattsson, winning 13-0 in her opening round. However, in the much-anticipated clash against world number two Mukaida, Vinesh could not be her usual attacking self and lost 0-7.
The first 60-70 seconds remained without scores as they measured each other. Vinesh lost a point on passivity and from there on, the Japanese began to dominate. A quick take-down, followed by an expose and another take-down gave the Japanese a commanding 7-0 lead.
Vinesh needed to attack but Mukaida’s defence was like an immovable rock. The Indian made two double-leg attacks and also got hold of Mukaidas left leg but could not convert those moves into points. Against Mattsson, Vinesh followed a strategy of staying away from the Swede.
Vinesh did not allow her to come close to play her hold-game. In no time, she raced to a 4-0 lead and made it a commanding 8-0 with a double leg attack and a takedown from a waist attack.
A healthy lead in her pocket, Vinesh just needed to stay calm and save some energy in the second period. She ended the bout with a four-point throw near the edge of the mat. Vinesh had recently beaten Sofia, the six-time World Championship medal winner, en route the Poland Open title-win last month.
Seema is world number three in 50kg but the seasoned Stadnik did not let her dominate. The consistent double leg attacks by Stadnik always had Seema on the run as she lost points for stepping out.
A take-down followed by a gut-wrench gave Stadnik a 6-0 lead at the break. Seema could only score two points with a take-down towards the end of the bout.
In the 72kg, Komal waited too long to attack. With just 40 seconds to go at 1-1, Komal made two double-leg attacks but only to lose points.
In one last desperate attempt, she attacked the right leg of the Turk but could not convert it into points with Beste staying strong in her defense.
India’s campaign in the Greco-Roman style folded after Naveen lost his 130kg repechage round by technical superiority to Estonias Heiki Nabi.
(With inputs from agencies)