For three days, the crowd at the Bharat Kesari dangal in Bhiwani cheered for the Phogat sisters. On the final day, however, they found a new favourite. Divya Kakran has spent a major part of the last year battling a kidney problem, missing several international competitions in the process.
But on Friday, she returned to the mat to upset the home-town favourite Geeta Phogat in the semifinal before defeating national champion Ritu Malik in the final to win the title and take home a prize money of Rs 10 lakh.
Divya beat Ritu 3-2 in a drama-filled final. The 19-year-old was trailing 1-2 with 30 seconds remaining when the referee awarded her a point due to Ritu’s passive play. Divya nicked one more point right at the end. After the bout was over, Ritu – unaware of the points – expected that the referee will declare her as the winner but Divya pointed towards the scoreboard and reminded her opponent of the final score. Ritu lodged a protest and after a long delay, it was over-ruled.
Divya jumped around and hugged the coach while the crowd could not stop chanting her name. The win over her seasoned opponents will be a perfect warm-up for Divya for next month’s Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast. She said it will give her confidence after spending almost a year off the matt. “I had a kidney failure.I was admitted in AIIMS for 10 days and managed to get treatment in time,” Divya said.
Consequently, she missed the trials for Paris World Championships last year and returned at the Senior Nationals in November. She won her first gold medal at senior level in Indore. Divya’s father, Suraj, was ecstatic that she defeated Geeta Phogat in her home town. “More than the prize money, the fact that she has beaten Geeta Phogat in her home town is extra ordinary” Suraj said.
Divya added: “I had a big win over Geeta and now over Ritu. They are both big wrestlers so it feels amazing. Everything is coming back on track now. I am going to Commonwealth Games and I want to win gold there.” she says.
Not just Geeta but all three Phogat sisters who participated here had a disappointing end. Geeta and Sangeeta finished third in the 68kg and 57kg categories while Ritu, expected to win 50kg title, lost in the final to Seema.