Vinesh Phogat pinned two-time Worlds medallist Maria Prevolaraki of Greece to clinch the bronze medal in the 53-kg category in the World Wrestling Championships in Kazakhstan on Wednesday. She had conceded a 0-1 lead but then held her opponent down long enough for her to be awarded the match with a 4-1 scoreline.
— Mihir Vasavda (@mihirsv) September 18, 2019
Phogat had already qualified for the 2020 Olympics after defeating World No. 1 Sarah Hildebrandt in the previous round on Wednesday. She is the first Indian wrestler to qualify for Tokyo 2020.
“I am happy and relieved that I am going to Tokyo but it’s not over yet. I have a medal bout and I don’t want to miss that,” Vinesh said after her win over Hildebrandt.
This is the first World medal for Phogat. She had failed to clinch a podium finish in three previous attempts. This is also the first medal for India at this edition of the Wrestling Worlds.
Phogat has also become the fifth woman wrestler from India to win a Worlds medal and the first to do so in a pre-Olympic year. Alka Tomar (2006), Geeta Phogat (2012), Babita Phogat (2012) and Pooja Dhanda (2018) are the other Indian women to have medalled at this competition.
Phogat is also the first Indian woman wrestler to qualify for two Olympics, and the first to do so from the Worlds stage.
Given the tragic circumstances of her exit from the 2016 Olympics, the stakes will be high for her to serve up a fitting comeback story in Tokyo next year.