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Asian Olympic Qualifier: Vinesh Phogat, Anshu Malik One Win Away From Paris Quota

Vinesh Phogat is competing in the 50kg category after winning the selection trials. Under-23 world wrestling champion Reetika too made it to the semifinals at the Asian Olympic Qualifier 2024 in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

Vinesh Phogat at Asian Olympic Qualifier Wrestling 2024, UWW photo
Indian wrestler Vinesh Phogat in action at the 50kg category of Asian Olympic Qualifier 2024 in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. Photo: United World Wrestling

Looking as dominant as ever, Vinesh Phogat made full use of an easy draw to demolish her opponents, placing herself one win away from securing a Paris Olympics quota, while Anshu Malik and U23 world champion Reetika too made it to the semifinals at the Asian Olympic Qualifier in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan on Saturday, April 20, 2024. (More Sports News)

Vinesh, as is her wont, looked for that one opportunity to subdue her Korean rival and grabbed it after measuring Miran Cheon for about 30 seconds in her opening bout.

Once she grabbed Cheon and pushed her down for a take down, the bout ended in a jiffy, in one minute and 39 seconds.

It was difficult to wriggle out of Vinesh's strong hold. The Indian employed gut wrench move thrice and mixed that with one 'expose' to finish the bout.

The next bout lasted a mere 67 seconds. Cambodia's Smanang Dit was an easy prey. Vinesh pinned her in no time to move to the women's 50kg semi-final.

Vinesh is competing in 50kg category after winning the selection trials. Even if she misses the chance, she can later be in contention for a berth in 53kg where Antim Panghal has already secured a quota. Antim may be asked to appear in one final trial to prove her worth.

The finalists at this competition will win quota for their respective countries.

The 2021 World Championship silver medallist Anshu Malik got a direct entry into the quarterfinals and she had no problem whatsoever to put it across Kyrgyzstan's Kalmira Bilimbekova by technical superiority.

U23 world champion Reetika (76kg) did not have to break much sweat in outclassing Eunju Hwang. She won the first round by technical superiority as the Korean had no answer to Reetika's class and got a similar win under belt against Mongolia's Davaanasan Enkh Amar.

In the final group bout against China's Juang Wang, Reetika raced to a 8-0 lead but the Chinese fought back and logged six straight points. She effected another move at the dying moments but much to the relief of Indian camp, that point was not awarded because it came at the end of stipulated time on clock.

Mansi Ahlawat (62kg) also made it to last-four as she needed to win just one bout. Up against Kazakhstan's Irina Kuznetsova, she emerged a 6-4 winner.

The only Indian wrestler who could not reach the semifinals was Nisha Dahiya (68kg).

Nisha had to work hard for her opening win against Sol Gum Pak from North Korea. The Indian had raced to a 5-0 lead and maintained that till the first period, but the Korean put the pressure back on her rival with a strong resistance.

Immediately at the start of the second period, Pak successfully got a take-down move to get on the scoreboard. However, Nisha kept pushing Pak out to extend her lead and eventually won 8-3.

Already exhausted, Nisha was outclassed by local favourite Meerim Zhumanazarova in round 2, in which she suffered a heavy defeat. After falling behind 1-9, she was pinned by Meerim. She could hardly employ any attacking move, and was mostly involved in standing wrestling.

In the must-win round 3, Nisha overpowered Kazakhstan's Yelena Shalygina but with Meerim losing her final group bout, Nisha did not have enough points to stay in top-four.

The last chance to win Paris Games quota will be at World Qualifiers in Turkey from May 9.