India’s Vinesh Phogat, Anshu secure Paris Olympics berth after winning at Asian Olympic Qualifiers

Indian wrestlers Vinesh Phogat and Anshu have secured their respective berths in the upcoming Paris Olympics after winning in the Asian Qualifiers on Saturday (April 20). Phogat, a three-time Commonwealth Games gold medalist will beat Laura Ganikyzy in the 50kg semifinal of the Asian Olympic Qualifiers. The win means Phogat will compete at her third Olympics have represent the nation at the 2020 and 2016 Olympics as well. The glorious day for India was also highlighted by Anshu Malik after she too secured the Olympic quota having won in the 57kg division.

It was a different scenario for Vinesh on the mat for Phogat this time as she competed in the 50kg category instead of her usual 53kg category. Antim Phangal’s dominance was the key reason she started the season in the 50kg category, with the former already having secured passage in the 53kg category. Phogat had a decisive day on Saturday knowing a win in the quarterfinal will secure her Olympics quota.

Standing in Phogat’s way was Ganikyzy, a bronze medallist from the U23 Asian Championships. Ganikyzy appeared eager to start scoring quickly and got out to an aggressive start, but Vinesh kept her off and played defense.

Phogat hasn’t participated in an international competition since the 2022 Commonwealth Games. She placed first in the 50kg division at the March selection trials after winning gold in the 55kg category at the Indian nationals in February of this year. This is also her first major outing since she played a prominent role in the wrestlers’ protest against former Wrestling Federation of India chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh for alleged sexual harassment of women’s wrestlers.

On the flip side, Anshu also record secured her berth in the Olympics after beating Kyrgyzstan’s Kalmira Bilimbekova. With only eight participants in the competition, Anshu’s passage was simple, a win would have seen her in the semis and secure the berth. In a wonderful display of dominance, she got the better of her Kyrgyzstan opposite number.

She would then put Uzbekistan’s Laylokhon Sobirova to the mat with a dominant 6-0 lead in the early stage. Anshu wiped the floor with Sobirova before officially confirming her place in the Olympics.

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