Vinesh Phogat and Sakshi Malik ended season with National titles

Vastavam web: Vinesh Phogat capped a highly successful season by grabbing the 57kg title while Sakshi Malik ended a terrible year by emerging champion in the 62kg at the Tata Motors Senior National Championship, here Saturday. Vinesh has already stamped her class at the international level by winning the Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games titles and it was just about getting some match competition under her belt after missing the Worlds due to an elbow injury. On way to her sixth National title, Vinesh conceded just two points in five bouts. She had earlier won five Nationals in a row from 2012 to 2016 in different categories.

“I could compete as I wanted. I wanted some competitive matches before the next season. Also I felt no pain in the entire campaign, that’s a big gain personally since I was competing in a higher category,” said Vinesh, who had suffered a ligament and muscle tear in her elbow before the Budapest Worlds. “I started doing practice only 15 days back, so my rehabilitation has worked nicely.” Vinesh won with ease but said the standard was not that bad during the competition.

“The first girl (Neetu) was very powerful and I lost two points due to my mistake. Two other girls were good but I am more experienced than them and that definitely helped. The more they train with seniors at the camp, the better they will get,” she said. In the quarterfinals, Haryana’s Manisha initially put up a fight against Vinesh but the star Indian grappler proved too powerful for her rival. After leading 6-0 following the first period with two take-down points, Vinesh applied a superb four-point throw to end the bout on technical superiority.

In the semifinal, Vinesh showed her class, applying a sensational four-point throw to stun Ravita from Haryana B. The bout was over in just 76 seconds. The final against Babita was the only the second bout which required a second period. Vinesh secured the title by taking the score to 10-0, with more than two-and-a-half minutes left. Pride at stake in the 62kg, Sakshi did a world of good to her confidence by winning the title without losing a single point. After the walkover from fellow Railways grappler Apoorva, Sakshi overwhelmed UP’s Pooja Tomar, winning by technical superiority.

The dominance continued with Sakshi outclassing Manipur’s A Luwang Khombi in just 43 seconds. The Olympic medallist maintained the winning run by outwitting Haryana’s Poona 11-0 to secure her place in the summit clash. “This is not something big but I will take it. There was not much competition because most of the rivals were juniors but any competition is good. I am more focused on next season and will start with Asian Championship,” said Sakshi. Ritu Malik, who had a fairly good run this year, could not even make it to the final in 65kg, losing a close semifinal to very impressive Anita, the 2010 CWG gold medallist. She settled for a bronze after holding off Reshma of Maharashtra.

However, she lost the thrilling semifinal to Anita, who went on to win the gold medal after prevailing 4-0 against Geetika Jakhar in the battle of veterans.The other champions to emerge in different categories were Indu Chaudhary (50kg), Seema (53kg), Pinki (55kg), Sarita (59kg), Navjot Kaur (68kg), Kiran Bishnoi (72kg) and Sudesh (76kg).