A year ago at the Senior Asian Championships in New Delhi, Divya Kakran finished with a silver medal after losing to Japan’s Sara Dosho. The Indian went for a leg grab and tried to pin the 2016 Olympic champion. It was an amateurish move and Dosho countered the attack to get an easy win via fall. Divya failed to execute a single attack that day but ended up second in her first ever senior-level international tournament.
Thursday was like deja vu for the 20-year-old as she suffered another defeat in a similar manner, not winning even a single point in the final, and ending up with a silver medal at the Junior Asian Wrestling Championships in New Delhi. Divya’s loss last year was to a far superior and experienced wrestler but her loss to Meerim Zhumanazarova of Kyrgyzstan on Thursday was more about her “mental block” against foreign wrestlers.
“It’s more of a mental block for her. She is probably afraid against foreign wrestlers and is unable to complete any of her moves. Today, she was too passive,” Dev, Divya’s brother and training partner, says.
Like in 2017, Divya was dominant before the final. Though she wrestled only once to reach the gold medal round, she dominated the semi-final bout. In her first bout, her Mongolian opponent was declared medically unfit and in the semi-final, Divya displayed her strength to claim a victory by fall over China’s Man Zhang. That bout ended inside the first period itself as Divya went on the attack. She performed her favourite move – kalaganj – which fetched her four points. She executed that again and got the fall.
“That’s my favourite because it ends the game. I grab the leg and the arm of the opponent and then toss her over my head and on her back. I then try to hold her in that position so I can get the pin fall,” Divya says.
But that did not work in the final. Her every move was defended well by Meerim and then countered to grab some quick points. Divya’s relatively slow speed, lack of strength and mediocre defensive skills also made it easy for Meerim to defend her title from last year. “She is a very strong wrestler and I have wrestled her before. But I should win gold in this competition. We all say Japan will be the toughest but this girl is the toughest for me and I want to beat her now,” Divya says.
Her silver medal was the best for an Indian wrestler on the first day of women’s freestyle wrestling but it left Divya unsatisfied as she was expecting nothing less than gold. It was her second loss to the Kyrgyz wrestler in five months. Back in February, Meerim had defeated Divya at the Senior Asian Championships to win the bronze medal.
The 20-year-old from Uttar Pradesh will now travel to Indonesia for the Asian Games next month and has to quickly make some changes in her game if she wants to climb the podium in Jakarta. “I know how important the Asian Games are. I will try hard to win there. This was my last competition at the junior level so now I have to work harder if I have to win at the senior level,” Divya says.