Antim Panghal shocked reigning champion Olivia Dominique Parrish en route to the World Championship semifinals, but the young grappler’s giant-killing run was halted in the last-four stage, leaving her fighting for a bronze medal and a Paris Olympic quota place on Wednesday. Panghal, the 53kg grappler, lost the semifinal bout to world No.23 Vanesa Kaladzinskaya — a Belarusian competing as a neutral athlete — on technical points 5-4. But the Indian can still earn an Olympic quota if she wins the bronze-medal match or emerges triumphant in the bout between the losers of the bronze-medal contest. Underlining her growth and a smooth transition from the junior to senior circuit, the two-time U20 champion won the first three bouts of the day to enter the semifinal even as other Indian contenders bit the dust in their respective categories.
The two-time U20 champion Panghal slipped to a 0-2 deficit at the start of the bout against USA’s Parrish but edged her rival 3-2 in the opening round.
She later outplayed Poland’s Roksana Marta Zasina by technical superiority and followed it up with a 9-6 win over Russian Natalia Malysheva, who is competing as a neutral athlete.
Earlier, American Parrish swung into action with a quick take-down move from a right-leg attack. Unperturbed, the 19-year-old Indian began to defend well and foiled two similar attempts, not conceding any more points till the end of first period.
With her strong defense continuing, Panghal did not let Parrish make any attacking move and as a result the American was put on clock.
Panghal got hold of the American’s left leg and converted that into a successful take-down move to draw parity. She tried to get a leg lace but could not pull off the move.
The American lost a point on passivity. Standing wrestling followed and Panghal defended her slender lead to walk out a winner.
She needed only one minute and 38 seconds to outplay Zasina in her next bout, beating the Poland wrestler by technical superiority to move into the quarterfinals.
After two take-down moves, Panghal pulled off leg-lace move with perfection to finish the bout in a jiffy.
In the quarterfinal, she led 6-0 but Natalia from Russia effected a comeback with a take-down and consecutive gut-wrench points to make it 6-6.
On counter-attack Panghal took the lead again. The Indian extended the lead with a left-leg attack which she converted into a take-down. After that, about 30 seconds were still left in the bout but Paghal denied her rival.
However, Manisha (62kg), Priyanka (68kg) and Jyoti Berwal (72kg) have lost their bouts and exited the tournament.
All 10 men’s free-style wrestlers have already exited the tournament without winning either an Olympic quota or a medal in non-Olympic categories.
All Indian athletes are competing under the UWW flag because the wrestling federation is suspended. PTI AT AM AM UNG