Pooja Dhanda joined the elite Indian company of women grapplers to take the bronze medal at the Worls Championships here on Thursday. Pooja defeated Grace Bullen of Norway 10-7 in the 57kg Freestyle category to secure the bronze medal at the Papp Lszlo Sportarena here. Before Pooja, only three Indian women grapplers Alka Tomar in 2006, Geeta Phogat and Babita Phogat in 2012 had won a bronze medal each at the Worlds Championships.
Pooja, who led 6-1 in the first period, had to go through some harrowing moments in the second period when the Norwegian launched an all-out attack which the Indian managed to stave off, despite giving away some passivity points and step-out points. In fact, what clinched the bronze play-off bout in Pooja's favour was the four-pointer which zoomed her to an unassailable lead after the Indian got to Grace's leg and rolled her for the vital clincher. Earlier, Pooja had defeated Alyona Kolesnil of Azerbaijan 8-4 to reach the bronze medal bout. Meanwhile, in the 50kg freestyle bronze medal play-off, India's Ritu Phogat began with a promise only to fade away against the tight defence of Ukraine's Oksana Livach. The Ukrainian eventually bagged the bronze with a 10-5 win.
However, Rio Olympic bronze medallist Sakshi Malik failed to past the repechage round, losing 2-3, including a challenge point to Hungarian Marianna Sastin to bow out of contest. Earlier in the day, four of India's Greco-Roman wrestlersAgot off to a poor start at the World Championships with all of them losing in the first round. Vijay (55kg), Gaurav Sharma (65kg), Kuldeep Malik (72kg) and Harpreet Singh (75kg) crashed out of after meek defeats.
Vijay, who is a World Junior bronze medal winner, lost 1-9 to Chinese Liguo Cao, while Gaurav went down to Poland's Jacek Michal 3-7. Then Kuldeep followed suit when Japanese Tomohiro Inoue defeated him 9-0 and finally Morocco's Zied Ait Ouagram outclassed Harpreet Singh 15-4.
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