When Antim Panghal walked out for her bronze medal in shape at the World Championships on Thursday, she nonetheless wore the seem that she had on at the give up of her semifinal defeat towards Vanesa Kaladzinskaya. Crying and in disbelief at what had passed off the day before, the 19-year-old got here out to battle searching like the tears hadn’t stopped overnight. There is a video on social media of the younger wrestler from Hisar, who had no longer regarded a loss at the Worlds until Wednesday (after two U20 World Championship wins), breaking down in tears and being comforted by way of her coaches.
But in spite of no longer recuperating from that heartbreak, Panghal took her first senior World Championship bronze medal in Belgrade. She did so by using surviving an severe first length in opposition to Swedish wrestler Jonna Malmgren earlier than taking the two-time European champion into deep waters in the 2d period, rising with a 16-6 victory as nicely as a quota for the Paris Olympics.
Coming on the returned of a 2d U20 World title, with two home trials – one for the Asian Games and one for the World Championships sandwiched in between – the 53kg wrestler had been subjected to a couple of weight cuts earlier than this match even began. Her coaches again in Haryana had instructed this paper that the quantity of weight cuts she had to go thru used to be ensuing in small accidents inside her physique – accidents that she had been feeling even earlier than the begin of this competition. Yet Panghal selected to be the solely Indian wrestler, male or female, to be a section of each the World Championships and the Asian Games. She did so with the trust that a medal right here would warranty her title as the Indian entrant for the 53kg spot at the Paris Olympics.
On Thursday, Panghal commenced by way of grabbing Malmgren’s leg inside seconds and incomes a step-out. A factor up, the Indian stepped into Malmgren’s vary and casually displayed her energy via grabbing her opponent’s thigh, turning her internal out to dump her on her again for a four-point play. Eighteen seconds in and it appeared like she used to be going to make brief work of the Swede. But moments later, tragedy nearly struck.
The Swede used to be midway thru a double-leg takedown however unexpectedly twisted onto her again with each of Panghal’s palms locked. Now it appeared as if Panghal’s possibilities of a bronze have been undone with her opponent tightening her lock and nearly pinning her. But the teenager struggled tough and by some means managed to launch her proper arm from that iron grip, fending off the fall, however giving up two points.
And then got here one of the pivotal moments of the match. Malmgren latched onto Panghal’s leg for some other takedown and didn’t let go. From that position, she grew to become her over however received reversed via the Indian herself. The first duration ended with each wrestlers on 6 factors and no longer lots to pick between them, even though the Swede had ended the spherical better. The commentators believed that if the Indians had challenged that closing scramble, they should have been awarded two greater factors however that notion in no way arose in the Indian camp.
The 2nd duration used to be some distance less difficult for Panghal even even though there had been traumatic moments. Two takedowns and a rollover later, the Indian led 12-6. From that position, the bronze medal used to be truely guaranteed as she saved her composure and the healthy moved into an place the place she had the probability to show off her speciality – counters. Two takedown tries by using Malmgren have been killed and then rapidly countered as the timer wound down to zero and the rating was once 16-6.
After the match, Panghal laid on the mat, simply as she had after her loss to Kaladzinskaya. She commenced to cry, simply as she had 24 hours until now when the Belarusian’s assignment was once well-known after their bout ended. The solely distinction used to be that the referee had raised anybody else’s hand then and on Thursday, Panghal was once on top. Even when her hand was once being raised, it used to be apparent to the 19-year-old, whose senior profession has simply begun, that this wasn’t a bronze medal received however a silver lost.