The 19-year-old wrestler Anshu Malik created history when she became the first Indian woman to win a silver medal in the World Championships. Malik clashed against American wrestler Helen Louise Maroulis in the 57 kg bout, but she lost to her opponent. In the process, she missed out on winning the gold but still managed to win the silver for reaching the finals.
The final of the marquee tournament was held in Oslo, Norway. Maroulis is a gold medalist in the 2016 Rio Olympics, making it difficult for the teenage Indian wrestler to counter her in the finals.
Despite the defeat, this was the best performance by an Indian woman in World Championships. Earlier, Geeta Phogat, Babita Phogat (both in 2012), Pooja Dhandha (2018), and Vinesh Phogat (2019) had won a bronze medal each. Indian fans can expect the women wrestlers to go one better and bring the gold in the coming years.
Born in Jind district of Haryana, Malik showed her immense potential as a wrestler by winning gold in the 60kg category championships. Later in 2020, Anshu Malik became a force to reckoned with. She won a bronze medal in the 57kg category of the 2020 Asian Wrestling championships. This tournament was held in New Delhi, India.
Later in the year, she went one better and won silver in the individual wrestling World Cups held in Belgrade, Serbia. This victory was also in the 57kg category wrestling. She repeated her heroics in the 2021 Asian Wrestling championships when she snatched a gold medal in the competition.
Talking about the final match against the American wrestler, Malik started brilliantly when she took a 1-0 lead. However, the American quickly showed that why was she the Olympic Gold medalist in 2016. She pinned Malik to make it 2-1 and then repeated the dose to make it 4-1 as the referee declared her victorious.
Disappointed on Losing the Gold
After her loss, Malik seemed in pain with moist eyes as her elbow injury aggravated. Returning home after the silver medal victory, she said – “I am extremely elated to have won a silver medal for India. I could not win gold. Struggles are always there in a sportsperson’s life. I got injured before the final bout. (But) I will do better next time. I will take some rest and will prepare for commonwealth games and the Asian games.”
Earlier, she reached the finals by defeating Ukraine’s Solomia Vynnyk. It was a one-sided victory for the Indian as she trounced her opponent 11-0 and won by technical superiority. While Malik was a favorite in the match over Vynnyk, a European Junior Wrestling champion, no one expected the match to be this easy for the Indian.
After winning the semi-final bout, she had told – “It’s extremely satisfying. I am so happy. It feels so good. What I could not do at the Tokyo Games I did that here. I fought each and every bout as my last bout. The month after the Tokyo Games was very tough. I could not perform as I had wanted at the Games. I suffered an injury (elbow) and can’t explain how much pain I endured one month before the World championship.”
Sarita Mor Wins Bronze
Anshu Malik was not the only good news for India from the World Championships. In the 59kg category, Sarita Mor won her bronze match against Sweden’s Sara Johanna Lindborg. She took the match quite easily by a margin of 8-2 as Indian women put up their best show in the World Championships. The last time India won two medals in the tournament was back in 2012 when the Phogat sisters had sealed a bronze medal each.
Moreover, this was Mor’s first-ever medal of any kind at the international level. She had failed to register a single medal in the previous five attempts that involved a U-23 and four senior world championships. This time though, Mor was more than determined to get rid of this medal drought as the current Asian Champion started in an aggressive fashion.
By the time the first break arrived, she had walloped to a lead of 6-0 before making it 8-0 when the match resumed. The Swedish wrestler then gained 2 points, but it was nothing more than consolation points as the Indian won the match without losing any more points.