Historic wrestler Antim is ready for Vinesh’s challenge – The New Indian Express

Express Message Service

CHENNAI: Three months ago, she was on the verge of the biggest upset of her career during selection processes at the SAI Training Center in Lucknow to win the women’s wrestling team for the 2022 Commonwealth Games. Antim Panghal, 17, led 3-1 in the second leg against reigning Commonwealth and Asian Games champion Vinesh Phogat in the 53kg weight class final and was just 10 seconds from a famous victory. However, it turned out to be heartbreak for the young wrestler as Vinesh used her vast experience to even the scores and win by the criteria.

Antim was hurt, but it also made her tougher and more determined. She then went medal hunting, taking silver at the U-23 Asia Championship in June, followed by gold at the Junior Asia Championship the next month. She then carried over the success of age group events to the senior level when she topped the podium at the Zouhaier Sghaier Tournament Ranking Series a few days later. And fittingly, the Haryana teenager made history on Friday by becoming the country’s first woman to win gold at the U-20 World Championships in Sofia, Bulgaria.

After recent success, Antim is now ready for round two with illustrious compatriot Vinesh, with qualifying for the World Senior Championships (September 10-18) scheduled for August 29th.“That selection in May was my first against her (Vinesh). Even then my coach asked me to give it my all as I have nothing to lose. I lost then but I’ll come back better this time, especially after something like that had good past few months,” Antim said daily.

Although the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) exempted CWG gold medalists Ravi Dahiya (57 kg), Bajrang Punia (65 kg) and Deepak Punia (86 kg) from trials, they made them mandatory for the female wrestlers. The dictates of the WFI meant that Antim will now make another attempt against Vinesh. Speaking of the rivalry, which is still in its infancy, Antim said, “She has won many credits for the country and is a renowned wrestler. Wrestling with her is always good for me as it will improve my game. I hope to win this time.”

Antim might now be the toast of the nation with the gold, but it was her eldest sister Sarita who encouraged her to pursue wrestling. “We are five siblings – four sisters and one brother, the youngest of us all. My father called me Antim (the last) because he didn’t want a daughter after me. It was my eldest sister Sarita who first took me to a sports academy in our Bhagana village in Hisar district (Haryana). She pursued Kabaddi, but she wanted me to start wrestling. However, I didn’t do much and just watched the wrestlers in action in the center. ‘ said the wrestler.

Just a year later, she moved to the county commissioner to pursue the sport seriously, but loneliness became her biggest obstacle, forcing her parents – Ram Niwas and Krishna Kumari – to send Sister Nisha for their company. The move worked wonders as she began to focus on her training and soon the family moved her to Hisar.

“My family moved with me to Hisar in 2018 and I also started winning national and international age group competitions in the same year, which boosted my confidence.”Coach Randhir Malik, who accompanied the team, said Antim’s leg attacks were her greatest strength. “Single and double leg attacks are their strengths. She needs to work on the ground wrestling but she is young and will only improve with time.”

Early in the tournament, Antim wanted to beat a Japanese wrestler as the country’s grapplers are considered to be the best in the world. And in Bulgaria, not only did she do it in style as she pinned Japan’s Ayaka Kimura in the quarterfinals, she also conceded just two points in four bouts to finish with the gold. Next stop will be STC Lucknow where she is expected to encounter a known enemy in Vinesh. The reward would be a spot on the national team for the world champions and more laurels in the biggest phase of the game.

CHENNAI: Three months ago, she was about to have the biggest upset of her career during the selection processes at the SAI training center in Lucknow to win the women’s wrestling team for the 2022 Commonwealth Games. Antim Panghal, 17, led 3-1 in the second leg against reigning Commonwealth and Asian Games champion Vinesh Phogat in the 53kg weight class final and was just 10 seconds from a famous victory. However, it turned out to be heartbreak for the young wrestler as Vinesh used her vast experience to even the scores and win by the criteria. Antim was hurt, but it also made her tougher and more determined. She then went medal hunting, taking silver at the U-23 Asia Championship in June, followed by gold at the Junior Asia Championship the next month. She then carried over the success of age group events to the senior level when she topped the podium at the Zouhaier Sghaier Tournament Ranking Series a few days later. And fittingly, the Haryana teenager made history on Friday by becoming the country’s first woman to win gold at the U-20 World Championships in Sofia, Bulgaria. After recent successes, Antim is now ready for round two with her illustrious compatriot Vinesh, with qualifying for the Senior World Championships (September 10-18) scheduled for August 29th. “That probation match in May was my first against her (Vinesh). Even then, my coach asked me to give everything because I had nothing to lose. I lost then but will come back better this time, especially after being so good the past few months,” Antim told daily. Although the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) recognized CWG gold medalists Ravi Dahiya (57kg), Bajrang Punia (65 kg) and Deepak Punia (86 kg) from exams, she made them compulsory for the female wrestlers.The dictates of the WFI meant that Antim will now make another attempt against Vinesh.Over the rivalry, which is still in its early stages Antim said, “She has won many laurels for the country and is a renowned wrestler. Wrestling with her is always good for me as it will improve my game. I hope to win this time.” Antim might now be the toast of the nation with the gold, but it was her eldest sister Sarita who encouraged her to pursue wrestling. “We are five siblings – four sisters and one brother, the youngest of us all. My father called me Antim (the last) because he didn’t want a daughter after me. It was my eldest sister Sarita who first took me to a sports academy in our Bhagana village in Hisar district (Haryana). She pursued Kabaddi, but she wanted me to start wrestling. However, I didn’t do much and just watched the wrestlers in action in the center. ‘ said the wrestler. Just a year later, she moved to the county commissioner to pursue the sport seriously, but loneliness became her biggest obstacle, forcing her parents – Ram Niwas and Krishna Kumari – to send Sister Nisha for their company. The move worked wonders as she began to focus on her training and soon the family moved her to Hisar. “My family moved with me to Hisar in 2018 and I also started winning national and international age group competitions that same year, which boosted my confidence.” Coach Randhir Malik, who accompanied the team, said Antim’s leg attacks were her greatest Strength. “Single and double leg attacks are their strengths. She needs to work on floor wrestling, but she’s still young and will only get better with time.” Early in the tournament, Antim wanted to beat a Japanese wrestler as the country’s grapplers are considered to be the best in the world. And in Bulgaria, not only did she do it in style as she pinned Japan’s Ayaka Kimura in the quarterfinals, she also conceded just two points in four bouts to finish with the gold. Next stop will be STC Lucknow where she is expected to encounter a known enemy in Vinesh. The reward would be a spot on the national team for the world champions and more laurels in the biggest phase of the game.

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