National Wrestling C’ship: Phogat sisters Ritu and Vinesh win gold medals

Vinesh Phogat defeated Manisha in the final to clinch the gold medal in the 55kg category . Ritu Phogat overcame a 0-2 deficit to down Nirmala Devi in the 50kg category final

Ritu Phogat (front) clinched her third successive national title.   -  File Photo

Phogat sisters Ritu and Vinesh bagged the 50kg and 55kg women's gold medals in convincing fashion on the opening day of the National Wrestling Championship at the Abhay Prashal Indoor Stadium here on Thursday.

The duo used the platform to regain some self-confidence before beginning their preparation for the Asian Games and Commonwealth Games next year.

Vinesh sailed smoothly to reach the final, where she faced some tough tackles from Manisha. Vinesh, who led 4-0 in the first round, saw Manisha attack her right leg repeatedly. However, the Commonwealth Games gold medallist used her experience and superior skills to wriggle out of Manisha's clutches and gather points through some fine take-downs and establish a 10-0 lead.

In the dying seconds, Vinesh managed to pin Manisha on the mat for a befitting victory. “I want to get back to my top form. My injury at the Rio Olympics was a big setback and I want to tell people that I can perform at my peak again,” said Vinesh.

Ritu also had some easy bouts before she had a difficult test in quarterfinals against Sheetal Tomar. The younger Phogat sister got over that obstacle on her way to final.

In the title clash against the experienced Nirmala Devi, Ritu rallied from 0-2 down to combine a superb take-down with a leg-flip to be 4-2 ahead after the first round. Ritu benefited from some counter-attacks in the second round to register a 6-2 win and claim her third National crown in a row.

“I know Nirmala's game, so I could make the comeback. But I have to work on tackling the newer wrestlers who spring some surprises,” said Ritu.

Delhi Commonwealth Games gold medallist and multiple National champion Ravinder, who fought in 60kg Greco Roman class following the rejig in weight categories, suffered a shock first-round exit after losing to a lesser known Services wrestler M. Taibanganda, who won by fall.

The 6-4 loss of current Asian championship bronze medallist Anil to Sandeep of Haryana was another big upset of the day. Anil lost in an 82kg Greco Roman first round bout.

Olympic medal winning wrestlers such as Sushil Kumar and Sakshi Malik and World championship medallist Geeta Phogat will be the star attraction of the second day's action.