Kiev (Ukraine), February 28
Star Indian wrestler Vinesh Phogat made a successful return to tournament action, beating 2017 world champion Vanesa Kaladzinskay to win 53kg gold at the Outstanding Ukrainian Wrestlers and Coaches Memorial tournament here on Sunday.
Up against the world No. 7 Belarusian, it was not an easy bout for the world No. 3 Indian as the two grapplers kept testing each other with consistent attacks in the sea-saw battle in which Vinesh prevailed.
Vinesh opened up a 4-0 lead in the 53kg final with a throw which she initiated with a left-leg attack but Kaladzinskay made it 4-4 with a brilliant move.
Vinesh took the break leading 6-4, adding to her score with a takedown 10 seconds before the break.
The Belarusian put pressure on the Indian with another four-point throw to lead 8-6, but with 25 seconds to go, Vinesh’s move fetched her four more points for a 10-8 lead. As Kaladzinskay tried to throw Vinesh to the mat, the Indian herself got into control and got Kaladzinskay on her back and pinned her to ensure herself a gold.
Since the coronavirus halted all competitions last year, it was the first competition for Vinesh, who is the only Indian woman wrestler to have qualified for the Tokyo Olympic Games.
Asked about her defence, Vinesh’s Belgian coach Woller Akos said he would speak only after he discusses the bout with his ward.
The next tournament for Vinesh is the UWW ranking series event, Matteo Pellicone in Italy, where fellow Tokyo qualifiers Bajrang Punia and Ravi Dahiya will also be seen in action on March 4-7. — Agencies, TNS