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Vinesh Phogat wins gold, reclaims number one rank; Bajrang Punia reaches final

Vinesh Phogat won her second gold medal in as many weeks with a dominant win in the Matteo Pellicone Ranking Series event and reclaimed the top rank in the her category.

Vinesh Phogat Vinesh looked jaded and lost her balance in the final seconds to be pinned by the Asian silver medalist in the women's freestyle 53kg.(File)

Living up to the expectations, star Indian wrestler Vinesh Phogat won her second gold medal in as many weeks with a dominant win in the Matteo Pellicone Ranking Series event and reclaimed the top rank in the her category.

The 26-year-old World bronze medallist and the only Indian woman wrestler to have qualified for the Tokyo Games, Vinesh blanked Canada’s Diana Mary Helen Weicker 4-0 in the 53kg title clash.

Vinesh scored all her points in the first period and held on to her lead in the second to ensure a top-of-the-podium finish.

Vinesh had won a gold medal in Kiev last week and this performance would give her the belief that her preparations for the biggest sporting event are on the right track.

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The Indian had entered the event as world number three but is back to world number one by jumping 14 points. The Canadian was ranked as low as 40 before the tournament but is now just behind Vinesh at number two.

Vinesh did not concede a single point at this tournament, winning two of her three bouts by pinning her rivals while getting injury walkouts in the other two in the eight-woman field.

For Bajrang, first up was Selim Kozan, a former cadet world champion from Turkey. The Indian easily crushed him by 7-0 scoreline. Kozan made several attacks, especially from the right, but the Indian defended well.

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Bajrang scored off with take down and gut wrench moves.

He faced stiff competition from America’s Joseph Christopher Mc Kenna but prevailed 6-3 in the semifinal.

Bajrang seemed to have improved upon his leg defence yet the American thrice got hold of his right leg. Bajrang, though, ensured that Mc Kenna does not take advantage of the grip.

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In the fast-paced bout, Bajrang took break with a 4-2 lead, scoring points with a take downs.

The American narrowed the gap to 3-4 late in the second period with a push out but Bajrang sealed the issue with a two-point throw. He will now face Mongolia’s Tulga Tumur Ochir, who prevented an all-Indian final by defeating Rohit 4-0 in the other 65kg semifinal.

First published on: 07-03-2021 at 10:31:39 am
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