Geeta Phogat on Sunday created history by becoming the first Indian woman wrestler to qualify for the Olympics after winning gold in the 55kg category at the Asian qualifying event in Astana,Kazakhstan. The 23-year-old beat South Koreas Ji-eun Um to bag only the second gold for India at this edition of the event.
Womens wrestling was introduced in the quadrennial event in 2004.
Both finalists at the competition qualify for the London Games. Geeta did not concede a point to each of her opponents in the first two rounds as well as in the final. She had also won gold at the Commonwealth Games.
On Sunday,Geeta started with a comfortable win over Gulina Kubatbek Kyzy of Kyrgyzstan before edging out Thailands Wilaiwan Thongkam. Her biggest threat came in the semi-final against Kazakhstans Ayim Abdildina. Geeta trailed 0-4 after the first period but turned it around in the next two to win with a margin of 9-4.
Hailing from a family of wrestlers,Geetas sisters,Babita and Mamta,have also represented India. Her win on Sunday,in a way,made up for the ignominy Babita had suffered in the run-up to the qualifiers.
Babita,considered the most talented of the three sisters,had failed to clear the weigh-in at two international meets,following which she was dropped from the squad. I am really happy that one of my daughters has won an Olympic berth, Mahavir Singh told The Indian Express from his native Balali village near Bhiwani.
Incidentally,Singh didnt have the support of his family,including his own father and the village elders,when he decided to train his girls in the sport.
Meanwhile,two other Indian women failed to bag an Olympic berth after coming within striking distance. Anita lost 1-3 to Kazakhstans Yelena Shalygina in the semi-final of the 63kg category,though she managed to win bronze after beating Koreas Eun-sun Jung 3-1 in the repechage bout.
Gursharan Preet Kaur too lost her last-four bout as she was beaten by Chinas Jiao Wang 9-0. Kaur failed to get on the podium after she lost to Mongolias Odonchimeg Badrakh in the repechage round.