Vinesh Phogat on Monday created history by becoming the first Indian woman wrestler to win a gold medal at the Asian Games, brushing aside her rivals with remarkable ease in the 50kg category here.
Vinesh was a medal-favourite in her category and was likely to face stiff competition from Japan’s Yuki Irie, whom she outplayed 6-2 in the final. It was the second gold for Indian wrestlers after Bajrang Punia’s win in the 65kg freestyle category on Sunday.
“I had targeted gold. I had 3-4 silvers at the Asia level. So I was determined to win a gold today. My body responded well. I had trained well and God was also kind to me. Everything fell in place for me today,” Vinesh Phogat said.
As fate would have it, Vinesh Phogat first faced China’s Yanan Sun against whom she lost that Rio Olympics bout. Vinesh asserted that she always felt she is a stronger athlete than Sun and Monday was the day to prove it.
“There was pressure but it was to prove that I am actually stronger than her. I wanted to prove this today because I lost thrice to her before. And I have done this today,” she said.
However, Rio Olympic medallist Sakshi Malik, competing in her first Asian Games, and Pooja Dhanda lost their bronze medal bouts tamely. In the men’s freestyle 125kg, Sumit Malik also lost his bronze medal bout, leaving India with just one medal from wrestling on Day 2.
Earlier, putting behind her heart-breaking loss at the Olympics two years ago, Vinesh began her victorious campaign with a revenge win against Sun against whom she had suffered that terrible knee injury, which cut short her journey in Rio.
This time Vinesh did not give her opponent any chance and came out a dominant winner with a 8-2 score.
In the next bout, she brushed aside the challenge of Korea’s Hyungjoo Kim by technical superiority. She ended the bout with a four-point throw.